“Hensel and Gretel: Ninja Chicks” – Book Review

Some of the first books we introduce to our young readers are fairy tales, fables, and folk tales. Why? From a teacher perspective its simple. Fables teach morals and lessons while fairy tales and folk tales lend themselves to lessons about the basic characteristics of narratives. These great stories can be retold at any reading level, which make them perfect to study with all students. The educational value of these types of stories is impossible to deny. But as readers, the unusual characters we meet, adventures we go on, and magic we come across keep us coming back for more.  We know the classics, we love, the classics, but sometimes we yearn for something fresh and new. Enter the Fractured Fairy Tale.

Fractured Fairy Tales are the classic tales we have come to adore, retold. Authors take familiar settings, plots, characters, and tweak them to create something all new.

One of my all time favorites growing up was Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith’s The truestoryTrue Story of the Three Little PigsThe True Story of the Three Little Pigs is told quite differently from the original. This version is told from the Big Bad Wolf’s point of view – er, I mean…Alfred T. Wolf’s point of view. Mr. Wolf goes on to explain that the events leading to him being branded as all “Big and Bad” was simply the result of an accident. He was trying to borrow sugar from the three little pigs and accidentally sneezed, causing their houses to be blown down.

In recent years Corey Rosen Schwartz and Dan Santat have been erecting an entirely new addition to the storybook landscape.

In 2012 Corey Rosen Schwartz and Dan Santat brought us a fractured edition of the Three Little Pigs titled The Three Ninja Pigs. The Three Ninja Pigs face the same dilemma as the source story. However, this time the Three Ninja Pigs do someninjapigsthing about it. Instead of building houses made of different materials, they take up martial arts for self-defense. Pig One take up aikido, Pig Two practices jujitsu, and Pig Three prepares in the art of karate. Through Dan Santat’s energetic and hilarious illustrations, readers are immersed in a new kind of fairy tale where the former victims are now butt-kicking ninjas!


ninjaredridinghoodIn 2014 the team expanded their series of fractured fairy tales by releasing Ninja Red Riding Hood. The Big Bad Wolf is back and tired of getting wailed on by his would-be meals. In an effort to satiate his hunger, he sneaks into a Ninja-Red-1dojo and hones his kung-fu skills. The Wolf bumps into Little Red Riding Hood in the woods. Red is on the way to visit her Grandma (as the original story goes). The Wolf hatches a plan to sneak into
Grandma’s house, pretend to be here, and gobble up Red for a snack. 
 Little does he know that LITTLE Red Riding Hood is actually NINJA Red Riding Hood and Grandma is a tai chi master. This book isn’t just another fractured fairy tale with the same theme as The Three Ninja Pigs, it is an expansion of it. Santant’s illustrations continue to compound on the groundwork laid in The Three Ninja Pigs. Readers will notice familiar settings and some of the furry ninjas training with our new heroes.

Now, this shuriken and rhyme slinging duo has become a trio with the addition ofhensel author Rebecca J. Gomez. On May 24th, 2016, we will be treated to the third ninja themed picture book titled Hensel and Gretel: Ninja ChicksWith a menacing fox on the loose and their Ma and Pop missing, Hensel and Gretel decide to take things into their own hands and enroll in the 3 Pigs Dojo (which happens to be owned by the Three Ninja Pigs). This cleverly crafted fractured fairy tale shows our Hensel and Gretel learning ninjutsu, leaving a trail of breadcrumbs and stumbling upon a house made of cornbread. The ninja chicks muster up all of their training to save their family and avoid becoming chicken pot pie, stir-fry, or any other delectable fox dinner.

Corey Rosen Schwartz, Rebecca J. Gomez and Dan Santat’s re-imagined fairy-tale canon is incredibly funny, engaging, and fresh.  These books would make a supremely fun author study or addition to any fairy tale unit.

I, for one, hope this group continues to add stories to this series. What will we see next? The Three Ninja Goats Gruff? Goldilocks and the Three Ninjas? Hopefully time will tell!


UPDATE: Check out Dan Santat’s AWESOME book trailer for Hensel and Gretel: Ninja Chicks here!

Title: Hensel and Gretel – Ninja Chicks
Written by: Corey Rosen Schwartz and Rebecca J. Gomez
Illustrated by: Dan Santat
Published by: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
On Sale: March 24th, 2016

Reviewed by: Paul Orsino

(F&G Received from Author for Review Purposes)

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