Gretel Asks

10 Gretel Asks illo

Jane Yolen

Gretel Asks

Is it the child we remember,
the one in the rundown house,
where dark and cold are bitter companions,
feeding her brother with an empty spoon?

Is it the girl in the black forest
we remember, singing a hoarse lullaby
to her shivering brother, calling
down angels for warmth?

Or is it the push we remember
the girl’s hand hard against the bony spine,
clang of oven door slamming,
damning the mother in the eternal fire?


New York Times bestseller, Jane Yolen, often called “the Hans Christian Andersen of America,” is the author of over 350 published books, including Owl Moon, The Devil’s Arithmetic How, Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight, and Briar Rose. Her books and stories have won an assortment of awards—two Nebulas, a World Fantasy Award, Caldecott Medal, Golden Kite Award, three Mythopoeic awards, two Christopher Medals, nomination for the National Book Award, several nominations for the Puschcart prize, and the Jewish Book Award, among many others. She is also the winner (for body of work) of the World Fantasy Assn. Lifetime Achievement Award, Science Fiction Poetry Association Grand Master Award, the Catholic Library’s Regina Medal, the du Grummond Medal, and the Smith College Medal. She was the first woman to give the St Andrews University’s Andrew Lang lecture since the lecture series was started in 1927. Six colleges and universities have given her honorary doctorates.Her books have been translated into over twenty languages. Also worthy of note, her Skylark Award–given by NESFA, the New England Science Fiction Association, set her good coat on fire. Her website:

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