Hansel & Gretel
Cannibalism for kids
Release Date: OUT NOW!
56 pages | Hardback Author: Neil Gaiman Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s
Earlier this year, Neil
Gaiman visited the Syrian refugee camps in Jordan and wrote about his experiences there. His visits created awareness, raised money and obviously affected him a great deal – and also helped inspire his latest illustrated story. Because wars and famine and terrible choices aren’t just confined to fairytales. “Talking to the Syrian refugees who ran out of food… getting permission from their Imams to eat cats and dogs because all the other animals had gone, eating grass, drinking swamp water, and I’m going, this, this is Hansel and Gretel now.”
You know the story: a woodcutter and his wife abandon their children in the woods rather than see the whole family starve. With their trail of breadcrumbs eaten by birds, Hansel and Gretel stumble upon a gingerbread house where they’re greeted by a friendly old woman…
So nothing new here – this is Gaiman’s telling of the classic story, not a different version of it. But it’s the little things that set the tone for a compelling, devastating edition. The reasons behind the situation, the war that led to famine and such dreadful choices. The fact that it’s not an evil stepmother, but the children’s own mother who insists the siblings must be abandoned. The dramatic illustrations by Lorenzo Mattotti, somewhere between woodcuts and shadows in the fire. They all combine to make an absorbing, terrifying fairytale that’s still relevant today. Rhian Drinkwater The original tale is believed to have come from the Great Famine of 1315, which killed millions and led to reports of cannibalism.