So ... yeah. I was dragged out to see the new "Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters" film last night. Um .... before discussing the film, let's start with a little background on the tale which (very very loosely) forms its foundation.
The original "Hansel and Gretel" was recorded by the stalwart Grimms boys in 1812. Unlike other folk and fairy tales (notably Cinderella), it has few transcultural variations: "Finette Cendron" and "Hop o' My Thumb" and possibly the Baba Yaga tales from Russia. But that's about it. The original oral fable went through a few revisions after it was written down -- religious imagery was added, and the biological mother of Hansel and Gretel became a stepmother, for example -- but it remained popular enough to be adapted into stage productions, live action films, animated films, and numerous children's books.
Of those children's books, my favorite is Hansel and Gretel by Linda Hayward and Sheilah Beckett. It is a straightforward retelling with little nuance: clever children, bad witch, the end. Beckett's illustrations are alternately sweet and sunny, and dark and frightening, and the children are always adorable. Consider this a good introduction to the classic tale for very young readers.