Pickles09 (pickles09) wrote in worldlit,

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Another one!

The True Story of Hansel and Gretel by Louise Murphy   pgs. 297     COUNTRY: POLAND

Words cannot describe the feelings this book gave me…

   Every child knows the story of Hansel and Gretel, the two children abandoned in the woods by their father and evil stepmother, who eventually discover the witch’s hut. What if the story was real? In this incredible novel by Louise Murphy the story is changed slightly, but the main elements are still there: the evil stepmother, the bread crumbs, the “witch”. Hansel and Gretel aren’t the real names of the two Jewish children who are left in the woods during WWII by a desperate father and stepmother trying to flee the Nazis. Their real names must remain secret, so the young children will be hopefully be taken in and suspected to be Christian.  The first person they come upon in the woods is Magda, a midwife who lives alone in the hut near a village. Magda is suspected to be a witch by the villagers and the children alike, but she agrees to take them in and feed them despite their fears. As the war nears its’ end, we see how the Nazis stationed in the nearby village frantically try to keep control of the villagers and remain true to their goals of wiping out “undesirables”. Madga suspects the children are Jews, but has vowed to keep them safe at all costs. The wonderful weaving of the main themes of Hansel and Gretel with a survival story during WWII makes for a simply amazing read. The one minor problem I had was that ending didn’t wrap up everything as well as I would have liked. Otherwise, a unique work that I urge you to read.4/5


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Thank you for this recommendation. I currently am teaching a module on Cinderellas around the world to a group of Year 9s (8th grade in the US), and my head of department is thinking I might expand it next year with other fairy tales.

Have you read Jane Yolen's Briar Rose, by chance?
you're welcome :) the cinderellas from around the world sounds like a cool idea. and no, i haven't, but it's on my to-read list.
I loved Briar Rose; I hope you enjoy it.

The Cinderella bit is fun. I first taught it in the US, and it worked well there. Most kids today only know the Disney version -- they don't know it originated in Asia, they don't know about the violence etc. Sad.
last year in my freshman year of college i was in the required freshman writing class and for the second semester our teacher picked a topic we all had to research- she picked fairy tales & folklore! it was really interesting, and we talked about violence and sexual innuendo, and such. i didn't know that cinderella originated in asia tho, that's interesting!
Apparently, the first actual written version in China is from the 9th century, but the story is much older.