A classic tale of love and acceptance from the Brothers Grimm is beautifully rendered in this magical retelling, now with an audio recording.
Hans is an unusual boy. Born a hedgehog from the waist up, he knows what it’s like to truly be an outcast. Even his amazing fiddle playing can’t help him fit in. So Hans flees to the forest with his herd of loyal pigs and only his music to keep him company. But then a most unusual thing happens: When Hans crosses paths with two kings with two lovely daughters, his luck starts to change. Will this lonely soul find true love after all?
This lively and lyrical retelling of the classic Grimm’s tale, paired with lush, detailed illustrations, reminds us of the power of music, the importance of belonging, and the transformative effect of love.
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.