Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

Hansel and Gretel

Lesser, Rika (Author)
Zelinsky, Paul O. (Illustrator)
Penguin Random House 1996. 48 pages
First published: 1984
ISBN: 9780698114074 (paperback)
9780525461524 (hardcover)
Original language: English
Dewey: 398.2
Book type: Picture Book
Book genre: Folklore

Text Elements:

character, conflict, structures and features

Award

Caldecott Honor Book – 1985

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

In words and pictures, this book skillfully recreates the gloomy dread pervading this story of two children abandoned in the woods.

The lengthy but highly readable language is informed by the tale’s origins: from its oral roots, through a variety of Grimm’s editions. “When it grew very dark the moon rose. Hansel looked for the bread crumbs, but they were gone. The thousands of woodland birds had pecked them up and eaten them.”

Lavish, realistic paintings brighten when the children find the witch’s tasty house. Pancakes form roof tiles and candy canes line the front walk. The inside is depicted in a style reminiscent of Dutch painting, with golden light spilling onto a rich, canopied bed. The witch’s draped robe reflects the twisting sheets, as Gretel is forced to get up and feed the caged Hansel.

Readers may question elements in this venerable story—such as the father’s passive role and the witch’s gullibility—or they may choose to simply enjoy the children’s luck, when Gretel roasts the witch, rescues her brother and the children return home to a delighted father, who “wept with joy to see them.” This is a quality version of a classic.

  •  

    In a small group, share your prior knowledge of Hansel and Gretel. Use a graphic organizer to retell the main plot elements and any details you are familiar with. As you read, compare and contrast this version with yours.

  •  

    Discuss the role of the illustrations. Do they match the mood of the story? What details in the pictures are important to notice?

  •  

    In a small group, choose one of the characters. Imagine you have been interrogated by the police about your actions in the story. Write a paragraph defending what you have done. Read your statement aloud to the class and discuss whether your defence is convincing or not.

  •  Discuss your prior knowledge of fairy tales. Make a class list or anchor chart of fairy tale characteristics, settings, characters and English titles.
  •  

    In a small group, share your prior knowledge of the tale. Use a graphic organizer to retell the main plot elements and any details you are familiar with. As the story is read, compare and contrast this version with your own.

  •  

    Compare different versions of Hansel and Gretel. How are the illustrations and texts similar or different? How are they appropriate for different audiences? Show your findings through a graphic organizer.

  •  

    Prepare a play to retell the story or do a Reader’s Theatre to present to other classes. Write your script by transferring the narration to dialogue.

  •  

    Write the words children, mother, father and witch in your notebook. For each character, list adjectives that describe these fairy tale character stereotypes.

  •  

    Analyze both the text and the illustrations. Would this be a good story to read to young children? Discuss your opinion with a peer.

  •  

    In teams of four, write an outline for a 21st century version of this fairy tale. Practise your dialogue and present your new version to the class. Be creative while respecting the conventions of fairy tales.

  • To communicate appropriately
  • To cooperate with others
  • To use creativity
  • Citizenship and Community Life
  • Health and Well-Being
  • Personal Development
  • Visual Arts