Forget the cloyingly sweet fairy tales you grew up with and prepare to enjoy them more in the spirit of their original authors as Gidwitz adds a delightfully dark, humorous voice to childhood standbys. Hansel and Gretel are the common thread binding nine tales together into a cohesive story filled with plenty of blood and mayhem. Carefully served warnings of what’s to come prepares the reader while creating a fun sense of camaraderie with the storyteller while instilling a sense of being grown up enough to handle whatever surprises are coming. These tales are more then simple entertainment as they reinforce the importance of family, particularly good parenting as Hansel and Gretel’s many adventures and misfortunes come about as the result of their parents. Surrogate parents don’t prove to be much better leaving the siblings to depend on their own abilities and cleverness to survive.
This would be a great book to read aloud to younger kids but read through it first just to be sure it won’t be too much for very sensitive children. Older kids around eight and up will enjoy reading it for themselves but just for fun, read it aloud with them and share Gidwitz’s snarky wit while rediscovering some very old classic stories.