Reviews for Hans My Hedgehog : A Tale from the Brothers Grimm

Booklist Reviews 2012 January #1
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. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2012 Fall
Coombs offers her own interpretation of the Grimm fairy tale of a half-boy, half-hedgehog: here, he raises pigs, plays the fiddle, and goes with little human love until a promise-made-good earns him a princess--and humanity. Nickle's acrylic paintings, though appropriately formal, mix several styles to often strange effect.

Kirkus Reviews 2011 December #1
Hans, half hedgehog and half human, lives as a hermit, deep in a forest with a rooster steed and an entourage of pigs, happily playing his fiddle, until two kings make promises that send him looking for his just reward: a princess. This unusual Grimm adaptation utilizes traditional fairy-tale treatments (lyrical language, graceful lettering) alongside innovative artistic choices (embedded paneling, sharp spot art). Inset oval illustrations, framed with blurred edging, draws eyes, while coal-black silhouetted scenes contribute to storytelling, adding even more depth to rich acrylic illustrations. Flecked, smudged backgrounds look like fibrous paper and complement the pictures' prevalent, ripe oranges, yellows, reds and blues. Plump, puppetlike people might seem dated, but Hans breaks from old-school fairy-tale renderings as a contemporary character; he's cute, comical and soulful enough to seem both freakish and sad. To older children, just seeing lines drawn between insiders and outsiders, between the attractive and unattractive, Hans' story seems grave. While the ending is completely expected, readers can't help loving it and even giving up a little gasp. When a kind princess inspires magical music from Hans' fiddle, he transforms into an entirely human hottie—and even looks like his old spiky self, with red tufted hair and a scratchy beard! Prickly, a bit funny and a bit dark: classic Grimm, modernized. (author's note) (Picture book/fairy tale. 4-10) Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2011 December #2

In a feat that may astound fairy tale cognoscenti, Coombs (The Runaway Dragon) and Nickle (Never Take a Shark to the Dentist) transform a once-prickly story into something witty and warm. The Grimms' half-boy/half-hedgehog Hans is a shrewd bagpipe player; rejected by his parents, he rides away on a rooster to tend pigs, which he later sends to slaughter. This version's likable Hans is an accomplished fiddler with loving parents, who retreats alone into the woods (riding his rooster and accompanied by attentive hogs). On two occasions, Hans's music helps rescue kings who have become lost in the forest. Assisted by his loyal rooster and pigs, Hans visits each ruler's castle and, on his second try, meets a princess who is willing to marry him (and, perchance, lift his curse, "Beauty and the Beast" style). Nickle's jewel-tone acrylics, painted on parchment-colored backdrops and interspersed with spiky ink-black silhouettes, conjure an Elizabethan ambience. Coombs includes an afterword to highlight her welcome revisions. Whether readers know the original, there is joy in watching this plucky Hans triumph. Ages 5-8. Agent: Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. (Jan.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2012 January

K-Gr 3--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. Hans, a stout figure with fuzzy spines that resemble bushy red hair, takes to the forest when the village children ignore him. There, he rescues two different kings, each of whom promises him a reward. The design of the book evokes the air of traditional fairy tales through the Old English-style font, the parchmentlike texture of the pages, and illustrations that are occasionally framed in darkened ovals to suggest old-fashioned portraits. The narrative retains the tone of classical Grimm stories, but the language, despite some difficult vocabulary words ("rootling," "retinue"), is much more accessible to young readers. Details like the giant red rooster Hans rides or his herd of pigs, whose dancing, cavorting, and mischief-making will amuse readers, suggest a surreal playfulness as he tries to claim his rewards. The frequent use of black in the acrylic artwork--as both a backdrop and in silhouettes--allows the colorful palette to pop in contrast. Unlike the bloodthirsty, vengeful character of the original tale who mutilates the daughter of the king who tricks him, this Hans is easier to identify with: he opts instead to take the dishonest king's gold as payment before marrying the daughter of the second king and becoming human. Perfect for storytimes and possibly a jumping-off point for age-appropriate discussions about ostracism.--Mahnaz Dar, formerly at Convent of the Sacred Heart, New York City

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