This April, we are posting one of our winning entries from the March Fairytale Retelling Competition every week. Check the blog each Monday for the latest winning story!
Amelia Jane is twelve years old and comes from the USA, though she currently lives in the lush green hills of Asturias, Spain. When she isn’t using her imagination to write fantastic stories, you can find Amelia up a tree, filling her wildlife notebook with notes & photos, doing ballet, volleyball & karate, and going on all sorts of adventures with her 4 younger siblings (& sometimes mom & dad too).
Gretel and Hansel
Gretel was six and Hansel was ten. The brother and sister lived in New York City with their foster parents in a nice blue house in a quiet neighborhood. They liked their home and school, and they were happy and well cared for, but lately their foster parents seemed worried and stressed. One night as the children were laying in their bunk-beds, they heard murmuring.
What are they saying?” Gretel asked her big brother.
The responsible Hansel sat up in bed and listened for a minute, then layed back down. “I can’t hear” he said, as the murmuring went on.
“I suppose it would be bad to go listen to what they are saying through the door?” Gretel asked her big brother.
He thought for a moment.
“Eavesdropping is a sin,” he replied.
After another moments silence Hansel dropped from the top bunkbed onto the hard wooden floor. Gretel slid quietly out of her bed and joined him, and they both crept silently to the living room door.
“I just can’t find another job,” their foster dad said. “No one will hire me, and with you expecting a baby, how will we cope?”
“What about that gardening place—have you applied there?” questioned their foster mom.
“They don’t want me”
it was quiet for a moment until the mom finally asked “well,… what are we going to do about the kids?”… then the whispering got even quieter. Hansel and Gretel couldn’t make out what was being said any more.
Gretel turned to her brother sadly…”What about us?” She asked… “They’re going to put us back in a group home, and we will be separated again!” She was close to tears. Hansel thought for a moment then spoke slowly.
“We won’t be separated again. We can run away. Let’s pack up some food and we can go live in Central Park. If that doesn’t work out we will find somewhere else.’ Just as he finished saying this, the door flew open.
“What are you two doing awake?” their foster mother asked.
Thinking quickly, Hansel replied “We were hungry–we were looking for some bread.”
“Ok, go get a snack, but I hope you remember that eavesdropping is not polite,” said their mom.
With one more hug the grown-ups were off to bed and the children went to theirs. The next day Hansel got the two hunks of break, several sandwiches, cookies, and a bottle of water and packed them into his backpack. Gretel packed only the essentials; her shiny sequin shirt, fluffy pink socks, and her favorite stuffed duck. Then they both set off to school. Only instead of going to school they went to the train station. Hansel bought two tickets with the change he had brought and they boarded the train bound for Central Park. Finally, they arrived and got off the train. It was afternoon, and they walked through the garden paths until Hansel said it was a good time for lunch. Unfortunately, the sandwiches had gotten squashed.
“Well, at least we still have the bread,” said Gretel, trying to look on the bright side.
As she bit into her bread a hungry pigeon approached and looked at her wistfully…
“Well, hello there!” she called. She threw it a crumb of her bread and the pigeon ate it up, coming closer for more. “No more” she said, as she put the rest of the bread back in the bag and placed it on the bench beside her to save for later. The she and Hansel went to look around a bit. Central Park was beautiful in the summer, and there was much to see. When they came back the bread was gone! Pigeons flocked around the bench.
“They’ve eaten it all!” wailed Gretel.
‘Don’t worry,” said Hansel, “we’ll find other food, now come on, let’s find some place to sleep. It’s getting late.” They walked through the park back to where they thought the path should be, but they couldn’t find it. The sun was sinking down in the sky, and it was getting harder to see.
“We are lost…” moaned Gretel. After a bit they came out to a street. Their eyes were drawn to a brown house with gingerbread trim. It had big planters in the front with colorful pansies that looked like pin-wheel lolly-pops. The roof shingles looked like vanilla wafers and the railings just might be chocolate covered pretzels. The door was a bright licorice red. The house stood out amongst the drab gray houses around it. The red door opened. A woman with a big bumpy nose and a black dress peered out.
“What are you kids doing out here at this time of night? It’s not safe,” she asked as she looked at them closely. “Come in and I’ll give you something to eat,” she said in a much softer tone. The children shook their heads. They knew better than to trust adults, especially strangers. But they were hungry.
“What do you have to eat?” blurted out Gretel before she could stop herself.
“Pecan pie, plum pudding, pumpkin pie….,” the lady listed off.
Finally, hunger overcame them and they walked inside. As they sat down at the table Gretel noticed something.
“Look,” she whispered to her brother, “there are bars on the windows.” Hansel looked. There were. A white cat ran across the floor. The lady stirred up the fire, looking at them from the corner of her eye.
“Let’s get out of here!” Gretel begged her brother. “I bet she’s a witch!” They edged towards the door, and Hansel slowly reached out to turn the handle. It was locked. The lady walked into the kitchen and they heard her talking on the phone. She returned with black and brown cat in her arms. Gretel started to cry.
“Don’t cry, child,” the lady said, “you are safe here”
“But aren’t you a witch?” Gretel asked.
“Goodness no!” laughed the lady. Then she explained that she had called the police in case they were searching for the children, which they had been. The police were on their way now to bring the children back home. Hansel and Gretel were a little worried that they wouldn’t be welcome. Would their parents be angry with them? Would they still want them?
They soon realized they didn’t need to worry. They were quickly embraced by their foster parents who were so relieved to have them back safe and sound.
“Why did you run away?” their parents asked.
“We thought you didn’t want us anymore,” Hansel answered. “We heard you talking about losing your job and expecting a baby. We thought you wouldn’t keep us, and we didn’t want to go back to a group home.” The adults knelt down beside them.
“We love you like our own, and even if money is tight, we will stick together as a family. We will have a baby coming soon, and we hope that you will consider this baby as your own brother or sister,’ their mother said. Their father nodded in agreement. They got pulled into a big hug that lasted a long time.
So, it turns out that the nice lady who was NOT a witch found a job opening in her gardening business for their father. He designed many more gardens that looked like candy. Hansel and Gretel loved playing with their new baby sister. SO, in the end, they all lived ……
happily ever after.