The kids’ school here has an excellent library. Supposedly it is the best children’s collection in all of South America. And the kids get to use it a lot; they go at least twice a week and sometimes 3 times a week to check out new books to bring home. Today Juan Carlos (4 years old) brought home “Hansel and Gretel”.
OK. Have you read the story of Hansel and Gretel lately?
It is disturbing with a Capital "D".
Disturbing Part #1
Right off the bat we’ve got the wicked step-mother’s solution to their lack of funds: just “ditch the kids in the woods” (Juan Carlos won't be letting go of my leg at the beach anytime soon.)
The father agrees with, and helps execute, this plan. (Show some spine man!)
The cannibal witch is planning to EAT them. (Can this get any scarier for a little kid?)
Said witch puts Hansel in a cage for apparently several days at least… (Good times, good times)
…And makes Gretel slave away in the kitchen preparing food to fatten up her soon-to-be-food brother. (this has got to be more than a little girl can handle-both the cooking and the guilt)
Poor, sweet, innocent Gretel ends up KILLING the witch by pushing her into a stove and shutting the door. (Have fun carrying around that baggage the rest of your life, Gretel.)
Our hero and heroine loot the home of the witch (OK, so this isn't really scary, but is it really a message we want to instill in our innocent youth?).
They run back into the arms of their father who got them in this predicament in the first place. (Does anyone else feel so sad for those kids at this point?)
And supposedly they live “happily ever after”?
It’s a good thing they took the loot because there’re certainly going to need it to pay for all of the therapy.
Whew! So why did I have fond, happy memories of this story? What’s changed? Is it because I am a parent now and the thought of hungry children lost in the woods is very unsettling? Or because there are such heinous crimes these days that it sounds more like a CSI plot than a so-far-fetched-it’s-ridiculous fairy tale? I’m thinking maybe my sweet-toothed-self focused in on the gingerbread house and unlimited goodies the kids were allowed to eat and blocked out all the scariness.
I don’t know. Does this story bother anyone else, or am I nuts?
P.S. Just so you know- I am not one of those people who's anti-fairy-tale. I think I might just be anti-Hansel-and-Gretel. Or maybe just really, really tired.