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Hansel and Gretel

Bethan Woollvin
Two Hoots
Age 3-7

Hansel and Gretel set off through the forest watched by the shadowy figure of a witch. But all is not as it seems, Willow is a hospitable witch who only uses good magic and Hansel and Gretel turn out to be lazy, greedy and VERY naughty. She invites them into her home and they proceed to eat mountains of her food and wreak havoc with her spell book. Willow is very patient until they go too far and her temper finally snaps. She turns her ungrateful guests into gingerbread biscuits, because Willow is not always a good witch.

This book is great fun, a brilliantly subversive re telling of a familiar tale with bold and striking illustrations.


Share the story

Read aloud
The story starts on the end papers as you open the book, look together at Hansel and Gretel walking through the forest. Can your child spot who is watching them? What do children think will happen?

Join in
With chorus ‘….but Willow didn’t get angry because Willow was a good witch.’

Talk about the story

  • Look back at the book and talk about the havoc the children cause with Willow’s spell book – what happens?

  • Look at the final illustration of Hansel and Gretel turned into biscuits, what might they be thinking? Why did Willow stop being a good witch?

Things to make and do

Play the story
Have an imaginary conversation between Willow and Hansel and Gretel when she puts them in her cauldron. You could role play this your selves each of you pretending to be either one of the children or Willow or you could use the models suggested below before hanging as a mobile.

Make a Hansel, Gretel and Willow the witch mobile
Make Willow the witch from a cone of card.  See the first half of this video for how to make a cone  Draw a face on a piece of paper cut out and stick on, you could use pipe cleaners for her legs and felt for her feet.

Make Hansel and Gretel out of card tubes with mini cones for their hats. Attach strong thread to the top of the three models with sticky tape or by threading through. Hang the models from a coat hanger.

Make a warning sign
Perhaps Willow decides to put up a sign on her door to warn future visitors/children. Talk together about what she might want to say eg Keep Out!

Use your senses – explore ginger
If possible buy some fresh ginger – peel or grate a small piece of this so that your child can sniff it and if they would like to, taste a very small flake.

Make gingerbread biscuits Make gingerbread biscuits together.
Here is a recipe you might like to use.

Find out more

Find out more about Bethan Woolvin

Read more books by prize winning picturebook maker Bethan Woollvin including two more subversive versions of traditional tales:

Little Red


If children do not know the traditional version of Hansel and Gretel you could watch the video here:

Other versions of the story include 

Hansel and Gretel Ladybird first favourite tales bu Ailie Busby

Hansel and Gretel First Stories Board Book by Dan Taylor

Hansel and Gretel by Michael Morpurgo illustrated by Emma Chichester Clark a sophisticated version which elaborates on the tex

Find out more about the brothers Grimm here