Brothers Grimm (text) & Sybille Schenker (illustrations)
translated from German by Martin West
If the Hansel and Gretel Week has allowed me to indulge in my love for fairy tale retellings, it has also allowed me to discover a brand new and unbelievably talented illustrator and her astonishing book: Sybille Schenker’s Hansel and Gretel is first and foremost an utterly beautiful object.
Sybille Schenker works mainly with paper cuts and transparency paper to create an atmospheric and visually stunning picture book. The mainly black cut-outs and clever use of typography come together to create a true Gothic atmosphere. The transparencies give a very misty and threatening feel in the forest scenes, and allow for objects and characters to appear and disappear. This also emphasises the kind of sneaky, sly feeling of something hiding in te forest. This however is both tamed and contrasted by the use of beautifully naïve flower patterns. The overall effect is stunning. I also love the patchwork gingerbread house, again a welcome splash of colours in the overall darkness. The use of transparencies allows to make the most of the amazing cut-outs that the artist originally designed (you can look at the original paper cuts here), and the juxtaposition of pages allow for great visual effect as well as continuity within the illustrations. The quality of its graphic design is truly astonishing.
I urge you to discover this beautiful book. The darkness of its illustrations might not make it suitable for the youngest of audiences, but the unusual artwork bring a new fascinating dimension to the traditional tale.
To get a sneak preview of Hansel and Gretel, check out this French video that takes you through the pages of the book:
Many thanks to Pip from Bounce who introduced me to Sybille Schenker and sent me a review copy of this book.
Gorgeous! Have you watched Lotte Reiniger’s fairy tale films? It also made me think of when I lived in London as played gamelan regularly – to accompany shadow puppet performances. Of course a very different style of shadow /paper puppets, but with some of the same magic.