I’m Just Sharing a Random Excerpt from
My Current Read Inasmuch as It’s Wonderful in About Seven Different Directions Before or After Breakfast

h1 December 13th, 2010 by jules

Hansel and Gretel came together like two magnets meeting, like meteors that have been screaming through space toward this one moment of collision. They met in the middle with a bang, and instantly their feet went out from under them on the slick roadway. They landed, hard, in a puddle of icy mud.

They stared at each other, sitting in the puddle.

Lost and then found.

Dead and then alive.

Covered in mud.

Sitting on their behinds in three inches of filthy water.

And they began to laugh. They threw their arms around each other and laughed until tears streamed down their faces. They sat, freezing, muddy, in a puddle in the middle of the road, with the gray sky overhead, and their parents’ castle waiting just a few miles away. They sat there and held each other until their arms ached.

‘Where have you been?’ Hansel asked as they pulled themselves out of the puddle.

‘How are you alive?’ Gretel asked at just the same moment.

So they climbed up on an oxcart and told each other about every single thing that had happened since the day of the hunt in the Lebenwald—and some things twice.

And as they talked and laughed and gasped and talked some more, Ivy and Betty {the oxen} drew them closer and closer to home.

Hansel and Gretel are coming to the hardest part now.

It’s true that they’ve been nearly eaten by a cannibalistic baker woman; and they’ve talked to the fiery sun and to the child-eating moon and to the kind stars; and they’ve journeyed to the Crystal Mountain; and that Gretel has cut off her own finger, and caused somebody to be boiled alive; and that Hansel has been turned into a beast and been shot and skinned and gambled away; and that he went to Hell and dressed up like the Devil’s grandmother; and that he’s been chased by the Devil himself and has held an old man’s hand as he died.

It’s true they’ve done all those things.

But sometimes, coming home is the hardest thing of all.

12 comments to “I’m Just Sharing a Random Excerpt from
My Current Read Inasmuch as It’s Wonderful in About Seven Different Directions Before or After Breakfast”

  1. So, in your opinion, what is the age range for this one? I have opinions…

  2. I’m a terrible person to ask.

    I will say: Even though I believe children are resilient (as I know you do) and I read all kinds of stuff to my children that perhaps the average parent doesn’t, this is so dark and gory (and now I see why Betsy described it as “horror” for kids in her interview with Gidwitz) that I have kept a close, close eye on the girls, as we’ve cuddled up to read it together. They’re okay, but I’d hesitate to recommend it to other parent-friends with kids the same age. I mean, “A Smile as Red as Blood” with the soul-stealing and the kid-hacking? HOO BOY.

    As always, it depends on the child. And parent with whom you’re chatting about books.

    It has brought up some HEAVY issues for my girls, I will add. We are not church-goers, so I scratched my head and stuttered over the questions about sin and forgiveness and Hell and the devil and such (“The Three Golden Hairs”). I did my best.

    Do you disagree with the “9 to 12” age range given to it? Would love to hear your—and others’—thoughts on it…

  3. I read it aloud to my fourth grade and one child did leave a couple of times. The rest loved it. But I think it totally depends on the child. (I also read aloud The Graveyard Book to another fourth grade a few years back and Coraline to yet another…) I find the 9-12 age range to be just right, but of course that does not mean it is for every kid in that range, no book is.

  4. As you know, I don’t have kids and am not a teacher. So can’t comment on the age-range question.

    But reading that as an adult, I think you’ve chosen a terrific title for this post. This is just hubba-WHOA, as you say — very much so!

    (And about the age range: it just occurred to me that whatever age is suitable for Tender Morsels may be right for this, too.)

  5. P.S. The cover of the book reminds me of a trick by Penn and Teller — actually, just silent Teller! — called “Shadows.” A YouTube clip from a documentary is here:


    Jason Alexander’s comment (re: magic being so beautiful it turns into poetry) sounds apropos, too. (Although again, I haven’t read the book (yet :).)

  6. I have this at home right now and am going to read it as soon as I finish my third readings of all the Batchelder books.

  7. Monica, yes. Each child is different.

    John: Tender Morsels—to the folks who decide these things, though I certainly agree with them—is most certainly a YA title. You beg the question, though, of whether older kids, even teens, would like Gidwitz’s book, which I guess is your exact point. The publisher puts Gidwitz’s book in the “9 to 12” age range.

    John, what in the what the? How does Teller do that?

    Adrienne, I think you’ll like it. I’ll be interested to know what you think.

  8. Jules–
    You know I am very brave with what I read to my class and what I used to read to my kids, but this one was too much for me. I KNOW that kids read differently than adults, but her walk into the woods to meet the older man and then the soul sucking…well, I have to say I had trouble sleeping after that. Of course I have had some difficult adult experiences that might contribute to my reaction.

    I really think it is for 10 and above, even though Monica will think I am a big baby for saying it.

    And the comment about Tender Morsels made my eyes bug out. A teacher I know gave it to an 8th grader–excellent reader, read very grown up books–and it was wayyyyyyyy too much for her. I have never read Tender Morsels–I just cannot handle things like that. The reviews alone terrified me!

    Back to the holiday craft sweatshop!

  9. Robin, I get that. I do. “A Smile as Red as Blood” made me stop in my tracks.

    I’m still reading…We’ll see how it ends.

    You’re hardly a big baby.

  10. Loved this book SO much!

  11. Laura, we finally finished it. That said, the excerpt posted here is still my favorite. For many reasons.

  12. I loved A Tale Dark and Grimm, but I would say it’s a bit gory for some of the 9’s in that 9-12 range. (I couldn’t bring myself to read more than a chapter or so of Tender Morsels, which I think is most appropriate for mature older teens and adults.)

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