Amazing Kids! Magazine

The True Story of Hansel and Gretel

By Carrie Pritt, 12 years old, Maryland

 

You may think that you know the story of Hansel and Gretel.  You probably think that an old witch tried to kill two children and they outsmarted her.  That is what Gretel told her son, and what her son told his daughter, and what his daughter told the Grimm brothers, who traveled through Germany in search of stories.  I am writing this story to tell you what really happened with Hansel and Gretel.

Many years ago, a young German girl named Sue Griller was famous for her amazing griddlecakes.  Every year she won blue ribbons at the county fair, and she owned a little shop where she sold griddlecakes to local villagers.  Every man adored her pretty face and her amazing griddlecakes, but young Sue never married anyone.  She was afraid that if she neglected her griddlecakes the villagers would become riotous.

One day a group of out-of-town people came to visit her shop, and the next day even more foreigners came.  No one had ever tasted anything like Sue’s griddlecakes.  Before long, people from all over the world were coming to get a taste of Sue’s luscious griddlecakes.  She became more famous than anyone else in the world.  People called her “Sue Griller the Griddlecake Griller” and paid her so well that soon she owned five large chests of gold.  To advertise better, Sue even made herself a pure candy house to live in.

But soon fewer and fewer visitors came to see young Sue and the horrid truth came out; somewhere on the other side of the world an American chef had invented a better way of making griddlecakes. Everyone still liked young and pretty Sue, but they all rushed out to meet Jack the Flapjack man.

They never came back.

A large forest grew up around the house and Sue got old and wrinkled.  All she ever did was sit in a big chair and rock back and forth, back and forth.  And everyday, as she rocked, she imagined what would have happened if she had married one of her many admirers.  She loved to imagine two beautiful, blue-eyed children running around, laughing, and hugging her.

Sue was so sad that she never ate griddlecakes anymore.  She put away her massive store of equipment and ingredients, and instead of griddlecakes, she kept cows and chickens and lived on egg-and-cheese sandwiches.

Sue had just decided that no one lived in the country anymore when she found two little children nibbling on her candy house.  They were dressed in rags, but very pretty all the same.

“Oh, sweethearts!” Sue cried happily, “What lovely blue eyes you have!  What are you doing just nibbling on my house?  Come in!  Welcome!”

It was a blond girl and her little brother: Hansel and Gretel.  They stared at the wrinkled old woman and went inside her pretty house. Sue fried a huge feast of egg-and-cheese sandwiches.  The children gobbled massive amounts of the food. After they were satisfied, Sue made two beds for them and tucked them in.

The next morning she woke up before the sun in an ecstasy of delight. She had dreamt of wonderful things to do with the children, and she was ready to have fun for the first time in decades.

The children were sluggish and clamored for more sleep, but Sue got them out of bed anyway.  She knew that once they started having fun they would thank her. For Hansel, she dragged out her very own playpen, the one she had used and loved when she was a child. It was beautiful, and its thick iron bars were hardly rusted at all. He started to cry, and Sue proudly interpreted this to mean that he was crying for joy at her thoughtfulness.

After thinking it over, Sue gave Gretel a big apron and a mop. She remembered how, as a young girl, she had loved to help her mother around the house. Gretel frowned and grumbled, but Sue knew that she was shy and was trying to cover up how happy she was.

It went on like that for days. All day, Hansel sat in the playpen and Gretel helped Sue with the spring cleaning. Every afternoon and evening, Sue fed Hansel a huge mound of egg-and-cheese sandwiches and slabs of grilled chicken—a feast which Gretel always helped her make—and wondered if the boy didn’t want to play Snag-A-Finger, her favorite childhood game.  But everyday when she asked him, the boy just stuck an old chicken bone through the thick bars instead of his own little pinky.

“What a poor, dear young soul!  He doesn’t understand the rules,” Sue murmured to herself. She didn’t want to upset him so she pretended like she couldn’t see the difference.

Then one day she had a brilliant idea. She and Gretel could make a griddlecake feast! She got up especially early the next morning and woke Gretel.

“Get up, lie-abed!” Sue cried teasingly, “Today we will have a lot of fun!  We will cook a huge griddlecake feast for Hansel!”

Gretel got out of bed at a snail’s pace and unwillingly helped Sue mix the griddlecake batter.  The old woman thought that Gretel could at least be a little more appreciative, but then she remembered that children are dear, fickle little things.  With this in mind, she speedily got over her short burst of disappointment.

“When I was young and pretty, I would draw crowds with my griddlecakes,” Sue told little Gretel as they washed the dishes. “Everyone knew about me: Sue Griller the Griddlecake Griller!”

“Tell me, old granny,” the little girl said rudely, “Who on earth ever came to see all the way out in the middle of this forest?”

“Bless her darling little soul!  She’s talking so nicely and sweetly to me!” Sue thought. “Well now, my little munchkin,” she explained happily, “This forest wasn’t always here, you know.”

“Oh?”

“That’s right.  It was a pretty little village.”

“If this is really all true and you’re not lying to me, then why aren’t you famous anymore?” Gretel asked.

“Well, there was Jack the Flapjack man and he took away all of my happiness,” Sue said dismally.

Gretel didn’t say anything.

“Well,” Old Sue said as she dried the last dish, “It’s time to make these. Here, I’ve killed a chicken. Will you see if the oven’s hot enough for it yet?”

Gretel didn’t answer.  After Sue had put away the last whisk, she turned around and looked at the girl with her hands on her hips.  Gretel was eyeing the great black oven suspiciously. Sue smiled.

“Sweetie, it won’t bite you!”

“It may burn me, though,” she said.  Her face was white with fear.

Was she really that afraid of an oven?  Oh well, Sue thought, children are always afraid of quite a lot of things.

“It won’t hurt you unless you touch it,” she said sympathetically, “Just lean way over and see if it’s hot enough.”

“I don’t know how, ma’am,” Gretel said cautiously.  Before Sue could reply, she repeated, “Please, I don’t know how.”

“It’s alright dearest,” Sue said, “Don’t trouble yourself over such a little matter as this. I’ll show you how.”

But what a fatal mistake poor, kind, old Sue made there!  For when she leaned over to help Gretel, the wicked little girl shoved her into the oven and shut the door. As Sue screamed in panic for the first—and the last—time in her life, Gretel ran over to her brother and opened the door to his playpen.

“We’re free, Hansel!” she said with a cry of joy, “How does it feel to be out of your prison?”

But that isn’t all. The two children actually stripped the house of every valuable thing it boasted and went home after entirely eating it.

I know myself that the stories you read about Hansel and Gretel in fairytales sound convincing.  But that just proves how good those wicked little children were at lying.  Trust me, those stories are not true.  You are one of the most fortunate people alive, because you know the real story of Hansel and Gretel.