Hank and Gertie: A Pioneer Hansel and Gretel Story

illus. by Mara Penny. 32p. WestWinds. Aug. 2018. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781513261225.
PreS-Gr 2—The familiar Grimm tale has been recast in a Western setting. Here, renamed siblings Hank and Gertie leave their mother to explore the countryside while the wagon train stops by a stream for lunch. Predictably, the children become lost when birds eat the bread crumbs they leave to find their way back. Soon the children meet Aunt Caroline while munching on her candy cabin. Of course, Aunt Caroline is actually a witch (Western style; plus she travels in a flying kettle). The old girl quickly begins to fatten up Hank for her barbecue while Gertie toils in the corral. Gertie tricks the witch into demonstrating her shape-changing skills, she changes into a rattlesnake that gets gobbled up by a coyote (a former boulder). Illustrations in muted colors and broad forms appear to be digital collage. They suggest the setting and provide additional details about Hank's diet and Aunt Caroline and her outfit. A concluding note from prolific reteller Kimmel briefly discusses folktale traditions and the Oregon Trail setting.
VERDICT This version somewhat softens the harshness of the original tale but the specificity of the setting and various additions make it less broadly appealing.

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