Ray and I put together a gingerbread-house kit tonight. It was a good idea — whenever I make gingerbread, some kind of primal instinct says, “KILL KILL KILL.”* In short, it doesn’t last very long. But the gingerbread in the kit was already stale, hard, and didn’t smell like gingerbread at all.

Perfect. For building gingerbread-houses anyway.

I learned a valuable lesson today: with enough icing and candy, anything looks good.

Anyway, that got me thinking. What if, instead of candy and sugary treats, the witch in “Hansel and Gretel” gave the kids stew instead? Well, obviously, she couldn’t; the whole point of the story is that false friendship is no more satisfying in the long run than the starvation of being ignored. (The story isn’t just about the evils of too much sugar.)

From there, my mind started to wander…what if the witch didn’t have a sugar house? What kind of house would she have, now? Probably one made of crack. I was going to write that up as a story, but then I realized people have been telling that story over and over for the last couple of decades. “At home, there was nothing, I wandered into seductive lands, but they were hollow.” For example, Valiant by Holly Black. I loved that book…

*Like that one part in “Alice’s Restaurant.”