________________ CM . . . . Volume XXII Number 14. . . .December 4, 2015


Hansel and Gretel and the Green Witch. (Tadpoles: Fairytale Twists).

Laura North. Illustrated by Chris Jevons.
St. Catharines, ON: Crabtree, 2015.
32 pp., pbk., hc., pdf & html, $8.95 (pbk.), $20.76 (RLB.).
ISBN 978-0-7787-1954-0 (pbk.), ISBN 978-0-7787-1928-0 (RLB.), ISBN 978-1-4271-7692-9 (pdf), ISBN 978-1-4271-7684-4 (html).

Preschool-grade 2 / Ages 4-7.

Review by Stephanie Johnson.

*** /4


Hansel and Gretel also liked to eat. They wolfed down cookies and gobbled cupcakes. Their father, the woodcutter, was worried. “My children will never move from that sofa.” One day, the woodcutter thought of a plan. “I will lay a trail of donuts to lead the children into the forest,” he said. “They’ll eat them all, and then they will have to get some exercise to make their way back home.”


As part of the “Tadpoles Fairytale Twists” series, the traditional story of Hansel and Gretel is twisted into an imaginative version in which Hansel and Gretel are lazy and unhealthy and their father leads them into the forest so that they will be forced to exercise. The children eventually encounter the evil witch who, in this case, only likes to eat healthy and fit children. The witch forces the children to exercise in order to make them nice and tasty for her eventual meal. Little does she know that she is turning the children into energetic athletes who can escape her!

     The twist in this fairytale is an especially relevant one as there is more and more emphasis on healthy and active children. While today’s children will likely not need the moral of the story, they will, nevertheless, find the idea of a vegetable-eating witch who forces children to exercise quite amusing. Some memorable scenes include the witch timing the children with a stopwatch as they go through an obstacle course as well as the witch acting as a drill sergeant and ordering Gretel to do pushups. The text is simple but appropriate for beginning readers who are at a slightly higher level as there is more focus on the story as compared to easy reader books that focus on simple and repetitive language.

     The eye-catching illustrations are the star of this book as they add humour and depth to the simple text. Their detail adds an extra level to the story which acts as a useful reading comprehension tool when discussing the text with children. The end matter of the book includes two comprehension puzzles for children to complete after reading the story as well as literacy tips and tricks for caregivers and teachers to use to engage children while reading.


Stephanie Johnson is a graduate of the Master of Library and Information Studies Program from the University of Alberta.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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