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Monday, February 25, 2008

Hansel and Gretel

Hansel and Gretel is an old German tale that comes to us via the Brothers Grimm. (Read the story in The Complete Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm [398.21 COM].) We have several picture book versions in our children's room, including the Caldecott Honor award winner illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky [JP HAN].) I'm sure you remember the story, so I won't bother to summarize it, but, in reading the Grimm version in The Complete Fairy Tales, I found that a duck ferried Hansel and Gretel to safety after their escape from the witch. I don't remember a duck in any version I have seen previously. Of course, in adapting a tale for a picture book, one would tend to eliminate anything that is not essential to the story. But it leads me to speculate about the reasons for the duck to begin with.

I found out about the duck at this site, which contains an annotated version. I found the "Modern Interpretations" booklist of particular interest. (What did you expect from a librarian?)

Besides reading the story, you can listen to the opera version by Engelbert Humperdinck [CD OPERA HUM]. We recently purchased the CD with Sir Charles Mackerras conducting the Philharmonia Orchestra (London) because it was awarded a Grammy this year for "Best Opera Recording." If you want a real treat, the Boston Lyric Opera is performing Hansel and Gretel on Sunday, April 13, at John Hancock Hall. Click here for more information.

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