Friday, September 16, 2011

Children's Book Review: Rumpelstiltskin

Name: Rumpelstiltskin 
Author / Illustrator: Retold and illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky
What's It All About: A miller sees the king riding through the countryside and, wanting to impress the king, he tells him his daughter can spin straw into gold.  The king has the miller's daughter brought to the castle, there to spin straw into gold or she'll be put to death (well done Dad, right?).  The miller's daughter does not know what to do until a little man appears and offers to help her for a gift in return.  Three times this happens.  The first gift she gives him is her necklace, the second her ring, and the third the promise that she will give her first born son to the little man if she becomes queen.  The beautiful miller's daughter agrees for she fears for her life and thinks nothing will come of the agreement.  She completes the tasks the king has asked for and he marries her.  A year later finds her with a baby boy prince and the little man appears to take him away.  The queen is distraught and the little man relents.  If she can find out his name before three days are up she can keep her son.  As we all know from the title of this classic Brothers Grimm tale, a servant discovers the little man singing a poem about his name and the queen is able to keep her son.  Rumplestiltskin (wouldn't you keep quiet about your name too?) rides off into the night on a wooden spoon.
My Favorite Bit: I really enjoy the painting of the scene where the queen guesses the little man's name.  The queen's stance and face are perfect and the baby is icing on the cake. These are smooth, pretty illustrations, which add to this classic tale.
Suitable Age For Reading It To: This story can be read to medium children and up.  Small children might find the story a little strange to follow though there is not more than a paragraph on any given page so if your children aren't too fidgety you could read this to younger ones.  There is nothing too harsh about this story apart from the miller's daughter dying if she doesn't do as she is asked.  But we all know this is a classic fairytale and most of the Brothers Grimm tales end up happily.  It's that Anderson fellow you want to watch out for. 
Go Get It: Rumpelstiltskin in paperback on Amazon US
A Little About The Author / Illustrator: 
Paul O. Zelinsky was born in 1953 in Evanston, Illinois.  He attended Yale and became interested in pursuing children's book illustration as a career after taking a class from Mercer Mayer.  Zelinsky said in reference to memories of what he had read, "Feelings come to me as a sort of flavor. I know that when I call up my earliest memories, what I remember seeing and hearing is accompanied by a flavor-like sense of what it felt like to be there and see that.” His most popular book is the movable story of The Wheels On The Bus, which has sold millions of copies.
Visit his website HERE.

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