Hansel and Gretel (Picture Puffins)

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9780140508369: Hansel and Gretel (Picture Puffins)

Beloved author James Marshall--creator of George and Martha--puts a hilarious twist on a classic tale in his retelling of Hansel and Gretel.

Abandoned in the woods, what will Hansel and Gretel - so innocent, so vulnerable, so deliciously plump - do when they come face-to-face with a dastardly, ugly, over-dressed witch?

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Review:

James Marshall--creator of the well-loved George and Martha books--infuses merriment into the grimmest of the Brothers Grimm tales. His cheerful, cartoonish art is the perfect foil for this dark story, making it somewhat less scary, though by no means benign. A poor woodcutter lives with his wife and two children, Hansel and Gretel. His wife (the children's stepmother) doesn't like the youngsters, complaining, "Those wretched children of yours are gobbling everything up!" She persuades the loving but weak-willed woodcutter to take the children into the woods and abandon them to the wilderness. Hansel, first with white pebbles, then with bread crumbs, valiantly tries to lead his sister back to the house, but when the bread crumbs are eaten by birds, they are stuck. Much to their glee, the children eventually find a "small house made of cookies and candy, spun sugar and cake." But if you think this is a happy ending, think again! The weird, bawdy witch who lives in the delectable house cages Hansel (to fatten him up like a veal) and enslaves Gretel. Gretel pushes the witch into the oven as an unfortunate but necessary means to save her brother.

Marshall has winningly retold and illustrated other fairy tales, including Goldilocks and the Three Bears, a Caldecott Honor Book. Here, Marshall's retelling of this rather horrifying story contains just the right comic touches to match his artwork. The text is set in large type, with short lines, making it a natural for first- or second-grade readers. Marshall's wonderful illustrations guarantee that the story of Hansel and Gretel will once again leave youngsters spellbound. (Ages 5 to 8)

About the Author:

James Marshall was born in San Antonio, Texas, and grew up sixteen miles outside of the town on the family farm. His father, who worked for the railroad, had his own dance band in the thirties and appeared on the radio. His mother, also musical, sang in the church choir. So it wasn't surprising when Jim considered playing the viola for a career and received a scholarshipto attend the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. But during an airplane trip he was jerked out of his seat and injured his hand, and that was the end of his musical career.

He returned to San Antonio College and later Trinity, where he studied French under Harry Allard, his future collaborator. After moving East, Jim graduated from Southern Connecticut State University with a degree in history and French. The French major somehow wound up trying to teach Spanish in a Catholic school in Boston. Before long he was looking for a new profession.

On a fateful summer afternoon in 1971 James Marshall lay on his hammock drawing pictures. His mother was inside the house watching Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf on TV. The strident voices of the movie's protagonists, George and Martha, split the quiet air, and as the sketches began to take shape, history was made ... and James Marshall never had to look for another profession.

And so, with" tongue-in cheek" Jim Marshall began his career and became one of the most prolific and successful author/illustrators of children's books. He is best known for his series on the mischievous exploits of Fox, a debonair, lazy showoff; the uproarious adventures of the two Cut-Ups, Spud and Joe; George and Martha; and the misadventures of the Stupidfamily.

The Washington Post said in a recent review of his work, "There are few better writers and illustrators for children now than Marshall. Certainly there is no one else working today who more successfully captures the child's point of view than does the creator of George and Martha and the Stupids". The New York Times said about the Fox books: "The miracle of Mr.Marshall's work is that so often his stories are as profound as they are simple". He illustrated new versions of many children's classics, including Goldilocks and the Three Bears, for which he received a Caldecott Honor, Red Riding Hood, The Three Little Pigs, and Hansel and Gretel.

In an interview with Texas Monthly, Jim Marshall said about his work: "People have very oddideas of what a children's writer should be like. Children always expect me to look like a hippopotamus and adults assume that by nature I have to be a little off the wall".

James Marshall died in October of 1992. He divided his time between an apartment in the Chelsea district of New York and his home in Mansfield Hollow Connecticut.

copyright ? 2000 by Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers. All rights reserved.

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