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Hansel and Gretel


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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.


Marshall's trademark wit and slyness mark every page of this effervescent interpretation. Never has there been a more horribly magnificent witch than his--an overstuffed, cackling harridan resplendent in scarlet costume, lipstick and rouge, her hair bedecked with incongruously delicate bows. She is matched, perhaps even surpassed, in girth by the woodcutter's bad-tempered wife, whose piggish eyes, ferocious countenance and caustic barbs will prompt delicious shivers. The children triumph over both in high style, proving themselves worthy successors to the fairytale characters who have previously found new life in Marshall's hands. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)

K-Gr 3-This fresh, animated version of James Marshall's picture book (Dial, 1990) will capture children's imaginations while the humorous cartoon illustrations render the Grimm tale less frightening. The woodcutter's wife is a corpulent redhead with ruby lips and heavily rouged cheeks. The selfish woman is always eating-even in bed-despite the fact that a famine threatens to starve everyone around her. The poor, henpecked father-stomach grumbling-succumbs to the callous woman's badgering and leads the youngsters deep into the forest. Luckily, clever Hansel gathers white pebbles the night before to mark the way home. When he and his sister finally arrive, their stepmother feigns relief, but soon enough another famine finds them lost in the woods. This time the boy must use breadcrumbs to mark the way as the wily woman bolts the door preventing him from gathering more stones. A snow white bird leads the stranded siblings to the seductive gingerbread house where they greedily gobble "roof cake" and "window sugar." "Nibble, nibble, little mousie/who's that nibbling/on my housie?" questions the green-haired witch, whose largesse and garish makeup hearkens back to another witch in their lives. While Hansel is fooled by her kindness, Gretel has her well-founded doubts. Thanks to the children's cunning, "the horrid witch roasted to a regular crisp." They return to their sorrowful father bearing riches from their captor's house, only to learn that his wife is dead. "Whether Hansel and Gretel were sorry is difficult to say/But with their father they lived happily ever after." Flute and strings provide music to set the mood and complement Kathy Bates's clear and cunning narration. A bewitching treat.-Barbara Auerbach, New York City Public Schools Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

"Once again Marshall works his magic on a popular tale, retelling without reshaping it and infusing both text and pictures with ingenuous simplicity lit by flashes of roguish humor. Gretel is the clearer-eyed here--the first to comprehend that the chubby, scowling woodcutter's wife (never specifically referred to as mother or stepmother) means no good, and that the gaudily dressed woman in the candy house is a witch. After the witch is "roasted to a regular crisp" in her own oven, Hansel and Gretel return home in triumph and are last seen decked with jewels, posing with their joyful father. Marshall's comic genius is less appropriate to this dark tale of betrayal than to "Red Riding Hood" and "The Three Little Pigs," which better lend themselves to farce; but his fans will probably be delighted with this anyway."--Kirkus Reviews

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