The story starts on the end papers as Hansel and Gretel set off, through the forest as might be expected, looking quite innocent and being watched by the shadowy figure of a witch. But all is not as it seems, Willow is actually a good witch who only used good magic and Hansel and Gretel turn out to be lazy, greedy and very naughty. They refuse to help Willow tidy the breadcrumbs, eat mountains of her food and then wreak havoc with her spell book. Despite this appalling behaviour Willow doesn’t get angry because, you’ve guessed it, she is a good witch. However when the children try to push Willow into the oven and carry on spell making until her gingerbread house collapses, her temper finally snaps. She turns her ungrateful guests into gingerbread biscuits, because Willow is not always a good witch.
Following the success of award winning Little Red and Rapunzel this is another brilliantly subversive and surprising re telling of a very familiar tale. The illustrations are striking and stylish with a limited palette; a single bold colour, this time orange offsets the otherwise black, white and grey illustrations. I love the way the children’s eyes look at each other as they lie baked into biscuits on the final spread. What are they thinking?