Hansel and Gretel was originally published in 1812 by the Grimm brothers. It’s a story of German origin. Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm heard the tale “Hansel and Gretel” from Wilhelm’s friend at the time, Dortchen Wild. Wilhelm later married her and she became Mrs. Grimm.
It’s possible that this fairy tale originated in medieval times when the Great Famine caused people to abandon children in the woods due to lack of food.
Hansel and Gretel is one of my personal favorite fairy tales from childhood. I was so fascinated with the story as a child. I used to have a copy of the Disney book that contained a record I could listen to on my record player. I can still remember sitting in my room and reading along with the story. This version is from Disney and came out in 1967.
Here’s a picture of the one I had a child.
Here’s my review for this edition:
This is a little book and record that I must have listened to a thousand times when I was little. I can remember listening to this on my little record player repeatedly. Side one of the record is the story and side two contains three songs from the opera Hansel and Gretel by Engelbert Humperdinck.
I love the illustrations in this version and I’m amazed how clear the record sounds. As soon as it started playing it evoked nostalgia within me. I recently purchased it for my collection for my family to enjoy. It’s perfect for children to follow and it does have the page turn signal.
If you’re a Hansel and Gretel fan, pick this up online. There are a handful of other stories you can get to go with the series as well. You won’t be disappointed.
Over the years I’ve discovered different versions of the story and have come across some really neat editions, like this board book from 1999.
Here’s one I grabbed at a book sale for only twenty-five cents. It’s from 1970.
It contains a combination of color, and black and white illustrations.
This edition has a stepmother, and she’s very happy to see the children return.
Another one of my books: Grimm’s Complete Fairy Tales also contains Hansel and Gretel. This book is a tome at 682 pages and was released in 2012. I still haven’t read the whole book, and it isn’t illustrated as much as I’d like.
This Retelling is very different…
The True Story of Hansel and Gretel by Louise Murphy. I ended up really enjoying it. You can see my original post for this by clicking HERE.
So now to the latest version of Hansel & Gretel that I’ve come across. This version is by Neil Gaiman and Lorenzo Mattotti. It was released in 2014. You can see my review below.
This version of Hansel & Gretel by Neil Gaiman has to be one of my favorites. I loved that it stays close to the original Grimm version and preserves the chilling details.
“Today, when the oven is hot enough, we will roast your brother,” said the old woman. “But do not be sad. I will give you his bones to chew, little one.”
What I cherish most about this edition are the illustrations. There’s no color in any of the pictures by Lorenzo Mattotti as they’re simply black and white. What’s interesting is how certain details in the written story are left out, but then you find them sketched in the pictures. For example, the mother is originally with the father as they lead the children into the dark forest and also with the original tale there’s a duck that helps them reach safety by swimming them across the river. There’s no mention of it, but you will find it in the illustrations.
In the back of the book there are a few pages that cover the history of the tale and where it originated. It also covers some other fairy tales that are similar to Hansel & Gretel including “Hop-o’-My-Thumb” and “Nennillo and Nennella.”
Overall, I really liked this edition. At first it seemed sort of drab when I saw that all the illustrations were black and white, but there’s a lot more to see in the illustrations if you just take the time to pay attention.
About the Author:
I make things up and write them down. Which takes us from comics (like SANDMAN) to novels (like ANANSI BOYS and AMERICAN GODS) to short stories (some are collected in SMOKE AND MIRRORS) and to occasionally movies (like Dave McKean’s MIRRORMASK or the NEVERWHERE TV series, or my own short film A SHORT FILM ABOUT JOHN BOLTON). – Amazon
In my spare time I read and sleep and eat and try to keep the blog at http://www.neilgaiman.com more or less up to date.
About the Illustrator:
LORENZO MATTOTTI is an Italian comics and graphic artist living in Paris. A frequent contributor of covers for The New Yorker, he’s recognized as one of the most outstanding international exponents of comics art. Mattotti won an Eisner Award for his graphic novel Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde. He collaborated with Lou Reed in re-imaging Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven. – Goodreads
Thanks for reading! Do you have any Hansel and Gretel books you’d like to share? Feel free to share your recommendations below.