Hansel & Gretel – A Fairy Tale with a Down Syndrome Twist by Jewel Kats and Claudia Marie Lenart

[I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.  No other compensation was received.]

Hansel & Gretel: A Fairy Tale with a Down Syndrome Twist Here is a new take on the classic story.  Hansel is five years old and has Down Syndrome — but that doesn’t mean he can’t help his family when they are in dire need of food.  In fact, he may just be the one to save them all.  Hansel & Gretel: A Fairy Tale with a Down Syndrome Twist is illustrated in gorgeous needle-felted wool paintings that give a rich and magical feel to this surprising and delightful tale.

Title: Hansel & Gretel:  A Fairy Tale with a Down Syndrome Twist

Author:  Jewel Kats

Illustrator:  Claudia Marie Lenart

Loving Healing Press, 2014, Fiction. ISBN:  978-1615992508

Suitable For Ages: 3 – 8+


Fairy Tale Variation, Kindness and Compassion, Down Syndrome, Children with Disabilities/Special Needs


“One fateful night, a storm ripped through Cottage Country. People – small and large – hid in their basements.”

Brief Synopsis:

A fisherman and his family need food after a terrible storm.  His children, Hansel and Gretel, are sent into the woods to help find food for the family.  Hansel may have Down Syndrome, and only be five years old, but he is certainly not helpless!  In his quest to help his family, he comes upon a gingerbread house and meets a witch. Instead of the classic tale though, this story has a different and significantly kinder ending.

©2014 Claudia Marie Felt. Images Courtesy of Claudia Marie Lenart.

©2014 Claudia Marie Felt. Images Courtesy of Claudia Marie Lenart.

 ©2014 Claudia Marie Felt.  Used with Permission.

©2014 Claudia Marie Felt. Images Courtesy of Claudia Marie Lenart.

©2014 Claudia Marie Felt. Images Courtesy of Claudia Marie Lenart.

Links To Resources:

Why I Like Hansel & Gretel- A Fairy Tale with a Down Syndrome Twist and Why You Should Read It:

  • This book has such a classic and timeless fairy-tale feeling to it.
  • This book uses a familiar story and then reworks it into something kinder, yet more realistic, and more hopeful.
  • This story explores what is possible, what is fun, and what happens when you deviate from the traditional script.
  • The needle-felted images and scenery are beautiful and stunning.  They set the tone perfectly and whisk you to a far-off land!
  • These pages took hundreds of hours to create and what an effect!  Each page is imbued with magic.
  • You will find that you want to linger on each page a little longer just to take all of it in.
  • This story does a great job of putting the readers into Hansel’s shoes and enabling the readers to see the world from his perspective.  Watching adults talk about you like you aren’t there, being dismissed prematurely, and constant assumptions about your skills and abilities — is very eye-opening.
  • This story is also fantastic in that the hero has Down Syndrome, but the story is not about the fact that he has Down Syndrome — it is about a boy helping his family in a time of need.
  • My son asked me to read it to him over and over again.  He asked me if I would let him go off into the woods to search for food.  (I’ll get back to him on that one.)
  • This is the first opportunity I’ve had to talk with my son about what Down Syndrome is.  In all of the picture books I’ve read, this is the first book to have a character who has Down Syndrome.
  • I’ve now read several books by Jewel Kats — and she knows how to tell an unforgettable story!  She had both me and my son glued to the couch hanging on to every word.  She has mastered the art of the page turn and keeping us in suspense!
  • Really, this book is all good things. It is so much fun to read this story and watch as characters change the familiar ending and all the repercussions that follow. It’s a fabulous retelling!

Where to Get it:

Author/Illustrator Websites:

  • Author:  Jewel Kats.  And you should know that she’s the real-life inspiration behind the Harper Lodge character in the Archie Comics.
  • Illustrator:  Claudia Marie Lenart (This is her Etsy page — her work is so beautiful!), her blog is herehere is a great story about how she illustrated the book, and this is her Facebook page.  (I spent a lot of time looking at her work.  It is astounding!)
  • Facebook page for Hansel & Gretel.

More Reviews of this Book:

Where Obtained:  I received a review copy from the illustrator. No other compensation was received.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

FTC Disclosures:  Some of the links in the post above are Amazon affiliate links and others are IndieBound affiliate links. If you click on the link and purchase something, I will receive an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you. Which goes to fund my family’s picture book habit.  It’s a vicious cycle, but we manage.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

I’m sharing this post with Perfect Picture Book Fridays over at Susanna Leonard Hill’s fantastic blog!  Her website is an incredible resource for picture book reviews and all things children’s books.  I’m always impressed with what I find on her site.  Please take a moment and check out lots of other picture book reviews.


  1. Tiffa, thank you so much for your kind words on behalf of Jewel Kats and Claudia Marie Lenart. As the publisher of this book, I have an idea of how many hours went into storyboarding, creating and posing the characters, creating every single prop and backdrop for each shot, and of course the photography itself. For my part, I struggled to make the pictures literally pop out of the page at you, which was a challenge in itself with so many rich, dark browns and greens in the images. Anyways, we are ALL grateful that you had the time to read this to your son.

    Victor R. Volkman, President
    L H Press Inc.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Of goodness! The photography is so seamlessly and well done — you only see the images! Your struggle was not in vain!

      Loving Healing Press is an amazing publisher that is rising to meet the demands for diversity in picture books. I’m very glad that I’ve gotten the opportunity to read and review your books.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for selecting this book to read to read to your son and then sharing it with us and Susanna’s perfect picture books. I also think the illustrations are stunning and marvel at the hours of work it must have been that went into making each one. I used to embroider and I know from experience it is not a fast paced sport. The photos you show here are just gorgeous.

    I must get a copy and read it. Yes, the illustrations are superb but so is the story line. 🙂


    • It is my pleasure! I have crocheted a few blankets and they took me forever — so I can only imagine how much time and energy and love went into this book.

      I’m definitely impressed with the publisher Loving Healing Press — they have all kinds of unique stories. They are definitely rising to the demand for diverse picture books.


  3. This one has been on my want list for a bit, but I have yet to see it in real life. I visit with quite a few little folks with Down Syndrome. They are incredible little humans. This sounds like an incredible tale with some eye-popping illustrations. Thanks for sharing!


  4. Oh, my goodness, I love this one! I can’t remember where I saw the images, but I read something about this book and the lady who creates the sculptures. The illustrations make me want to climb inside the book and get cozy amid the fuzz.


  5. It’s so awesome to see a book about Down Syndrome that doesn’t have a didactic title like “My Friend Has Autism” (not that those books don’t have their place). It looks stunning to boot!


  6. I love to buy great books for all my friends’ children and this one in particular looks wonderful. I usually go for vintage books, things that were favorites of mine growing up but are out of print now, but I’m always open to newly published gems. Two great friends of mine from high school and college got married and their first boy has Down’s Syndrome. I went to visit them for a week last month and it gave me a whole new awareness of the issue. I’ll definitely be obtaining a copy of this to send for their family to enjoy. Giving books away is something in life I absolutely love and I’ll be perusing your site for new finds. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

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