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Hans My Hedgehog: A Tale from the Brothers Grimm Hardcover – January 24, 2012
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Once upon a time a farmer and his wife wanted a child so badly that the farmer cried out, “I want a son even if he’s half a hedgehog!” And, thus, Hans, half hedgehog and half boy, is born. Inspired by the music he hears around him in the forest, Hans begins fiddling and, despite performing for villagers, is lonely—so, astride his rooster, he moves to the forest to play enchanting music for his devoted pig companions. When Hans meets first one lost king and then another, each makes a bargain in exchange for his guidance in exiting the woods. The first king reneges, but the second keeps his promise, resulting in a princess bride and a broken spell. This retelling blends whimsy, poignancy, and drama—and, while following the Grimms’ basic story line, it’s a lighter, less gruesome version of the tale. Coombs’ adaptation is eloquent and intricate, while Nickle’s richly hued illustrations have a classic flavor and feature varied perspectives, silhouettes, inset cameos, and lighthearted flourishes, like Hans’ challenge in getting dressed. An author’s note provides background and story inspirations. Grades K-3. --Shelle Rosenfeld
* "Hans breaks from old-school fairy-tale renderings as a contemporary character; he’s cute, comical and soulful. Prickly, a bit funny and a bit dark: classic Grimm, modernized."--Kirkus Reviews (STARRED)
"Coombs’ adaptation is eloquent and intricate, while Nickle’s richly hued illustrations have a classic flavor and feature varied perspectives, silhouettes, inset cameos, and lighthearted flourishes, like Hans’ challenge in getting dressed. An author’s note provides background and story inspirations."--Booklist
* “In a feat that may astound fairy tale cognoscenti, Coombs and Nickle transform a once-prickly story into something witty and warm. Whether readers know the original, there is joy in watching this plucky Hans triumph.” –Publishers Weekly, (STARRED REVIEW)
“This vibrantly illustrated retelling of an obscure fairy tale transforms a boy born with the upper body of a hedgehog from a beastly oddity into a sympathetic protagonist. Perfect for storytimes and possibly a jumping-off point for age-appropriate discussions about ostracism.”—School Library Journal
“This twisty mash-up of “The Princess and the Frog” and “Beauty and the Beast” introduces a spirited hero who handles his misfit status well, even if he does resort to a smattering of revenge. Creatures with quills, no matter how sweetly illustrated, are bound to be a bit testy.”—The New York Times
“A wonderfully imaginative story of loneliness, courage, and ultimately love, this selection is terrific.”—Sarasota Herald-Tribune
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Top customer reviews
with my real hedgehog, Q-tip! The book is so cute and the illustrations are
beautiful! This is a wonderful book for anyone, even if you don't have a hedgehog.
It would be a great Christmas gift.
Now for a true story... the other morning, as I was trying to rush my 7th grader to get ready for school, he kept telling me, "Just a minute! I'm almost done reading!" When he finally came out of my office, he said, "That was a good book." He had just started James Dashner's The Maze Runner earlier in the week, and I was impressed he had finished already. "No," he said. "I it was that Hans My Hedgehog book."
Keeping a thirteen-year-old boy engaged in a folktale retelling is an accomplishment. Which is an apt lead-in to this review. In Hans My Hedgehog, Kate has managed to make what could be a rather grim story charming and magical. In Kate's signature lyrical prose, Hans comes alive, a lonely boy/creature who turns to solitude and music when he feels like an outcast. Fun touches such as Hans's loyal pigs and their mischievous revenge on the first king, and the humorous details in the illustrations (including the clever silhouettes) make the book re-readable, again and again. Which is why I give Hans My Hedgehog five stars.
Hans is a sympathetic character wanting to be loved and accepted by those around him. He has a great talent in creating music with his fiddle. I appreciated the fact that he had to work hard to develop this talent. When he is rejected he leaves home to live in the nearby enchanted forest with a herd of pigs and a beautiful, flying rooster. The kings, the one who intends on keeping his promise and the one who doesn't (see above summary) provide the moral in this fairy tale. Appropriately, the king who breaks his promise is punished (loses have his fortune) and the king, who keeps his promise receives a very talented son-in-law. I liked the fact that Hans broke his own curse through the beauty of his music. A well-told fairy tale worth adding to most fairy tale collections (makes for a great comparison with similar stories, like Beauty and the Beast).
I was not really excited about the illustrations when I first read the story. But in looking at them a second time, I've decided that they suit the story quite well. I liked the way the illustration integrated musical notes into the pictures to capture the importance of Hans's music in the story. Nickle also added some nice humorous touches. For example, the bad king, his daughter, and guards all wearing pink, definitely funny. Also, the picture where Hans is wearing only underwear and the reader sees for the first time the contrast between Hans's hedgehog half and his human half. The mention of underwear is almost always a laugh getter for children. The picture of the pigs wearing crowns and pearls is also amusing. I found it interesting that we don't actually see the face of the second princess until we see Hans as a complete human. The only problem I had with the illustrations was the leafless trees in the forest. This seemed odd to me. Otherwise I enjoyed the book.