3 Feb 2018



Meet Hans.

Half hedgehog, half boy.

One lonely soul with a magical fiddle.

Add two promises, two princesses,

and a herd of loyal pigs.

The final ingredient?

One true love who will change

- Inner Front Cover Blurb

Once upon a time in a village just past yonder, there lived a prosperous farmer and his wife.
- First Sentence, Page Unnumbered

They upset the cooks and muddied the king's bedclothes and frightened the princess.
- Memorable Moment, Page Unnumbered

SOURCE ... A Christmas gift.


MY THOUGHTS ... A story, well known from the  Brothers Grimm collection of stories I read last year and, before this, one of my teenage self's all-time tv programmes, The Storyteller as created by Jim Henson. To be honest this isn't one of my favourite folk stories and probably isn't a book I would have chosen if it wasn't for my collection of hedgehog themed books.

Here retold by Kate Coombs and aimed at (according to several website) those aged five to eight years old. 

Hmm! Five to eight?

Perhaps not if this had been the original telling of the story which is altogether darker but there has been tweaking aplenty to make it more sanitised for a younger (and arguably more delicate) audience. That said, like many other tales similar in nature, read enough into it and its still rife with misogyny and objectification but then that's not necessarily something that will be picked up by your average five to eight year old who doubtlessly will view it as just another story (albeit perhaps that little bit weird) with colourful and fun illustrations.

For myself (putting the original version aside and judging this retelling on its own merits), from something of a hideous oddity to a spirited protagonist, here portrayed as a contemporary character in the ilk of Beauty and the Beast, Hans is an OK read. The illustrations, whether in vibrant colour or done as silhouettes, humorous and with something new to be found every time you look at them, for me they are the main attraction of the book.


Kelly said...

It's not a fairy tale with which I'm familiar and the idea of being half boy, half hedgehog sounds quite unique (and perfect for you). I'm not sure I have a Brothers Grimm collection at home and, if I do... it's probably sanitized to remove some of the original terror and darkness.

Great to see a new review here. I've missed you!

Brian Joseph said...

By coincidence it was just Groundhog Day here in the United States. I love hedgehogs myself.

I really need to read the original Brothers Grimm stories which I have never done. From what I havoc heard, as you mention, they may not be appropriate for all ages.

Anonymous said...

Neither am I familiar with this
fairy tale. My father had Andersen's
tales on his shelves. And some of those
could be truly scary and grim. And like
you I loved The Storyteller series.
But thank you for your excellent review.

Shooting Stars Mag said...

I don't know this one! I do want to read more Brothers Grimm though. That's great that the illustrations were a plus for you. :)


Melliane said...

The illustrations look beautiful there!

Karen Alderman said...

I hadn't heard of this one - or maybe it's been so long I've forgotten (most likely).

the illustrations do look lovely even if the story wasn't quite what you wanted.

Karen @ For What It's Worth

Melissa (Books and Things) said...

I've not heard of this story but would totally read it. I think I'm with you... the illustrations would be the main reason to read it.

Literary Feline said...

I am not familiar with this story at all, but I am interested after reading your review of this book.