Witch's Guide to Cooking with Children, retold modern fairy tales, Keith McGowan,

4th Grade Book Club: Retold Modern Fairy Tales

Retold Modern Fairy Tales

The Witch’s Guide to Cooking with Children is a modern retold fairy tale chapter book. My middle daughter’s book club read it for the December meeting and it paired nicely with Gingerbread House decorating. The five girls in her book club all thought the book was funny; the idea of a witch living in your hometown is intriguing! Just like Hansel and Gretel which this book riffs off of, the story is an adventure with a daring rescue.

The Witch’s Guide to Cooking With Children by Keith McGowan, illustrations by Yoko Tanaka (A Modern-Day Retelling of Hansel and Gretel)

And what if there is a witch in your town? I think she would live in a house like this (an actual house in my town). It screams “I Used to Live in a Gingerbread House with Candy Cane Trim but Now I’m Incognito.”

witch house, witch's house




Doesn’t this look like it’s trying to blend in but doesn’t succeed?

The idea of the supernatural or even monsters living next door starts to feel normal after reading books like the Twilight series (not for this age, it’s YA). It’s fun to imagine that perhaps vampires can be friendly neighbors. If so, could you identify them? I tried, and I think these boys that I found on The Sartorialist would certainly be candidates for vampires: pale, extremely good-looking, cold to the touch, and buff.

The Sartorialist, vampires next door?, retold modern fairy tales, 4th grade chapter booksCould these boys be vampires? On the Street…….Quai Voltaire, Paris

My other candidate for potential vampire would be designer Tom Ford. Apparently, he also needs very little sleep — around 4 hours a day — and he takes 4 hot baths a day as well. I am thinking it’s to warm up to human temperature! He’s interviewed here at Harper’s Bazaar.

Tom Ford, potential vampire,Tom Ford is a vampire? It could be true …

You must be thinking that I clearly have too much time on my hands. I would counter that I’ve been having a Twilight series benders lately, so I’m all about vampires these days!

Anyway, I digress. If you are interested in the gingerbread house activity, below is a DIY version for those of you with hidden talents or a kid for those of us who know our limits.

How To Make a Gingerbread House


Or just buy a kit …


More Retold Modern Fairy Tales

Picture Books

The Three Pigs by David Weisner

The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales by Jon Scieszka, illustrated by Lane Smith

Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein

More Retold Modern Fairy Tales

Chapter Books

A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz (chapter book, ages 9-12)

Breadcrumbs by Ann Ursu (chapter book, ages 9-12)

Cinder by Marissa Meyer, great review by The Brain Lair (Young Adult)

I know I’m missing more of these retold modern fairy tales. Can you help me out with a comment? Thanks!

 To view any book more closely at Amazon, please click on image of book.

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By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. Ann

    This book looks really good – adding to my list for later! Sounds like it really fed your imagination – I love that!

    I know we have read many retellings, hard to remember…
    We have out now The Orphan: A Cinderella Story from Greece, Anthony Manna
    Carmine: A Little More Red, Melissa Sweet
    3 by Lynn Roberts
    The Little Lit series by Art Spiegelman
    The Sister’s Grimm series
    Ann recently posted…Reasons for RainMy Profile

    • To Ann,
      I’m so glad you liked it. I think reading Twilight series so much makes me think the supernatural are everywhere amongst us! Thanks for the book recs! Will add to the list!

  2. This book looks great, and I’ll second the Sisters Grimm series. Fen loves the books! I’m going to go read your post on starting a kids’ book club now. Ta ta!
    Craftwhack recently posted…12 Conclusive Signs Your Pet is Trying to Kill YouMy Profile

    • To Craftwhack,
      I can’t believe I’ve missed out on the Sisters Grim series! I will try to get it for my kids. I hope I am not too late. Are you going to start a kids’ book club? Yay! It’s sooo fun!

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