Master storyteller Gaiman (The Graveyard Book) plumbs the dark depths of Hansel and Gretel, imagining the pair’s mother scheming to abandon them (“Two dead are better than four dead,” she tells their father. “That is mathematics, and it is logic”) and reveling in the witch’s cruelty. “Today, when the oven is hot enough, we will roast your brother,” she announces to Gretel. “But do not be sad. I will give you his bones to chew, little one.” Italian illustrator Mattotti contributes elegant b&w ink spreads that alternate with spreads of text. His artistry flows from the movement of his brush and the play of light and shadow. The witch’s house, tiled with baroque decorations and topped with a graceful tower, is unexpectedly beautiful; light pours through the barley sugar windows. The absence of color is a foil for Gaiman’s panoply of words: “gloves and hats of travelers, and coins of cold and of silver, a string of pearls, chains of gold and chains of silver.” Gaiman makes the story’s horrors feel very real and very human, and Mattotti’s artwork is genuinely chilling. Ages 7–10. (Oct.)
Hansel and Gretel astonishes from start to finish…The book itself is a gorgeous and carefully made object…Their rendition brings a freshness and even a feeling of majesty to the little tale.
—New York Times
If this isn't the definitive edition of "Hansel and Gretel," it's absolutely necessary. ... The swirling lines look as though they might start moving if seen at just the right moment. The pictures have inspired Gaiman to write some of his most beautiful sentences... Grimm version is as frightening as a bedtime story gets, but this version will scare people in new ways, and some of those people may need to start drawing right away.
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Master storyteller Gaiman plumbs the dark depths of Hansel and Gretel... Italian illustrator Mattotti contributes elegant b&w ink spreads that alternate with spreads of text. His artistry flows from the movement of his brush and the play of light and shadow. ... Gaiman makes the story’s horrors feel very real and very human, and Mattotti’s artwork is genuinely chilling.
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Newbery Medal–winner Neil Gaiman retells Hansel and Gretel as a story of parents plotting a murder by neglect, with full-spread India ink compositions by Lorenzo Mattotti as dark and terrifying as his forest setting. ... Gaiman's text is a study in minimalism, yet he includes every salient detail... A perfectly frightful treat.
—Shelf Awareness (starred review)
On simple, well-designed pages of just text, Gaiman tells a fairly standard version of Hansel and Gretel. And while the story is unsettling enough on its own, it’s Mattotti’s full-bleed india ink illustrations that dial up the creep factor. ... Mattotti masterfully and subtly uses negative space so each image isn’t immediately noticeable, like the most menacing game of hide-and-seek, and the abrupt oscillation between the clean, white pages of words and the silent, chilling dusky pictures is striking. While this isn’t a graphic novel per se, Gaiman’s fans and lovers of visual storytelling will devour this eerie version of a classic.
There is no question that Gaiman is an incredibly gifted wordsmith, and his retelling hearkens back to the Grimms’s original narrative. The most inspirational part of this book is Mattotti’s artwork. Pitch-black India ink is used to great effect, creating dark and terrifying landscapes that threaten to envelop the tiny figures of the children. An extensive note on the history of the tale’s origins is included as back matter. Mattotti’s amazing work will inspire a new generation of readers, and this volume will give chills.
—School Library Journal
I love Gaiman’s and Mattotti’s Hansel & Gretel. The writing is rich. ("They went so deep into the old forest that the sunlight was stained green by the leaves.") And the art is striking. I have never seen a more chill-inducing rendition of the witch's gingerbread cottage. I swear it looks like there's a skull atop it.
—Julie Danielson, Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast
Some books you’re excited about because you like the author and you know what to expect. Others are exciting because you like the author and you have no idea what to expect. That’s the case with this TOON Books version of Hansel & Gretel written by Neil Gaiman.
—Travis Jonker, 100 Scope Notes
[Gaiman and Mattotti] tell this Grimm's tale the way it should be told: fiercely and beautifully.
When it comes to new takes on fairy tales, the most spectacular by far is Neil Gaiman's brilliant new Hansel and Gretel.
—The Buffalo News
If this isn't the definitive edition of "Hansel and Gretel," it's absolutely necessary. It would be easy for readers to believe that Mattotti drew these pictures while listening to a storyteller by firelight, as if he grabbed a piece of charcoal straight out of the ashes, because he needed to draw the characters right away. The truth may be even more amazing. The pictures were inspired by a Metropolitan Opera production of the Humperdinck favorite, and the thick patches of ink contain five different colors, though the effect is of enveloping blackness. The swirling lines look as though they might start moving if seen at just the right moment. The pictures have inspired Gaiman to write some of his most beautiful sentences, direct and horrifying: "If you do not eat," says the woodcutter's wife, "then you will not be able to swing an axe. And if you cannot cut down a tree, or haul the wood into the town, then we all starve and die." The wordless double-page spreads alternate with text-filled spreads, with lines set generously apart and framed by delicate flowers. A deluxe version, about half again as big, features a die-cut cover but is otherwise equally, spectacularly understated. The Grimm version is as frightening as a bedtime story gets, but this version will scare people in new ways, and some of those people may need to start drawing right away. (historical notes) (Picture book/fairy tale. 7-12)