Now, you probably already know the tale of Hansel and Gretel, the two children that find themselves in a rather perilous situation with a scary witch. Well, Bethan Woollvin will have you questioning all that you know in this cracking re-working of the traditional tale.
In the forest lived a good witch named Willow, so good in fact that she never did anything bad. Also in the forest were two children called Hansel and Gretel. Now Hansel and Gretel were not the well-behaved kind of children, they were the naughty kind. In need of help to clean up a trail of breadcrumbs, Willow asks the two children but Hansel and Gretel are not the kind of children to be helpful and instead they have plans of their own. It isn’t long before the children are making mischief and eating WIllow’s gingerbread house. And their trouble-making doesn’t end there. They scoff a delicious feast that Willow has prepared for them all to themselves, they mess around with spells and magic, enlarge the cat and completely destroy the house. But Willow will have the last laugh because sometimes even a good witch can be bad…
This is such a fun read. I love a book that takes a traditional tale and flips it on its head. Told from the viewpoint of the witch, Woollvin portrays the children as naughty, greedy and absolute horrors, and in Willow we have a kind-hearted and very motherly witch. But when the behaviour of the children tips her over the edge, Willow has to take control. I’m sure many parents and children will find themselves relating to the characters in this story.
The story is told in short and simple sentences and Woollvin’s use of a simple colour palette of orange, black and grey has the illustrations bouncing off the pages.
Woollvin has created a laugh-out-loud story and her re-telling is a resounding success. Dark, delicious and absolutely delightful.
Recommended for 5+.