Posted in Uncategorized

Bethan Woollvin’s Hansel & Gretel serves up just desserts

Hansel & Gretel, by Bethan Woollvin, (Oct. 2018, Peachtree Publishers), $16.95, ISBN: 9781682630730

Ages 4-7

Bethan Woollvin’s back with another fractured fairy tale; this time, taking on brother-sister duo, Hansel and Gretel. We meet Willow, who, as Ms. Woollvin asserts multiple times, “is a good witch”. She only uses good magic, she takes care of her neck of the forest, she’s a nice witch. So when she sees Hansel and Gretel leaving breadcrumbs all over her forest floor, she politely asks them to help clean up their mess. They’re rude, and they blow her off. Then she catches them eating her home! But she figures they’re hungry, so she invites them in and cooks for them. Because Willow is a nice witch. After a few more indignities at these bratty children’s hands, Willow’s house collapses, and then Willow gets mad. And what happens when you push a nice witch too far?

Bethan Woollvin gives readers an uproariously funny tale of comeuppance in this latest fairy tale installment, flipping the whole Hansel & Gretel story on its head. Her trademark three-color art – in this case, orange, black, and gray – is bold and loaded with mischievous fun. Hansel and Gretel sport impish smiles and shifty eyes as they take over Willow’s home. There are loads of details to spot in the artwork, including a little mouse that stays around to watch the action unfold. The endpapers extend the story, as Willow watches the two careless siblings toss breadcrumbs in the opening papers and stands next to a very large black cat (read the story) and a candy castle – her home, rebuilt? – at the end.

I love Bethan Woollvin’s fairy tales. Give her more Grimm, please! Make your own Hansel & Gretel puppets by printing out these free activity sheets.

 

Posted in Preschool Reads

Bethan Wollvin’s Girl-Power Fairy Tales: Rapunzel

Rapunzel, by Bethan Woollvin, (Oct. 2017, Peachtree Publishers), $16.95, ISBN: 978-1-68263-003-7

Recommended for readers 3-8

Last year, Bethan Woollvin gave readers Little Red; her spin on Little Red Riding Hood. Little Red didn’t need a huntsman to help her out; she had things handled. Woollvin’s newest tale, Rapunzel, gives us another heroine who can take care of herself.

The story starts out the same: kidnapped by a witch, living in a tower, the witch climbs up her hair, snips it to sell, and threatens her. But Rapunzel isn’t worried – she’s too smart for that. She starts figuring out that if the witch can use her hair to get in, Rapunzel can use her own hair to get out. We see her exploring the forest, reading a book called, “How to Defeat Witches”, and we just know this isn’t a princess that needs saving. Heck, no prince even shows up in this story. When the witch confronts Rapunzel after discovering she’s been out, the girl takes matters into her own hands. Literally. And that, my friends, is that: Rapunzel is free and becomes the bane of witches everywhere.

I  love Woollvin’s flipped fairy tales! The two-color art stands out; it’s dramatic and bright. Where Little Red was black and red, Rapunzel is, naturally, yellow and red. The endpapers give readers the short version of the story: the opening endpapers show a witch pursuing Rapunzel through the forest, and the closing endpapers show her masked, on a horse, with two witches hiding from her this time. The art is simple, fun, and gets to the point. Readers can make their own Rapunzels and witches (or Little Reds) with printables aplenty – hold a flipped fairy tale/girl power storytime and let your readers transform!

A great add to storytime collections and fairy tale bookshelves everywhere!

Posted in Early Reader, Fiction, Preschool Reads

Little Red ain’t afraid of no wolf!

littleredLittle Red, by Betan Woollvin (Apr. 2016, Peachtree Publishers), $16.95, ISBN: 9781561459179

Recommended for ages 3-8

We all know the story by now – Little Red Riding Hood goes to visit her sick grandmother, meets the Big Bad Wolf, who forms a plan that has pretty dire circumstances for grandma, depending on which version you’re reading. Little Red gets a scare, huntsman saves the day.

But not this little girl. With this repeated phrase throughout the book, we know that this Little Red Riding Hood knows how to take care of herself just fine, thank you very much. Digital and gouache art come together with dramatic black, white, red, and grey to create bold lines perfect for storytime read-alouds. The twist ending will make fans of I Want My Hat Back smile and chuckle.

With a savvy heroine, a sense of humor, and great visuals, Little Red is a fun addition to the fractured fairy tales book collection. You do have one, don’t you? You may also want to add this to your Mighty Girl reading lists, the girls will love it.

Author and illustrator Beth Woollvin is the 2014 winner of the Macmillan Childrens Book Competition 2014. I’m looking forward to seeing more from her!