Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Rumpelstiltskin Problem” as Want to Read:
The Rumpelstiltskin Problem
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Rumpelstiltskin Problem

3.82  ·  Rating Details ·  2,646 Ratings  ·  257 Reviews
Have you ever wondered just what was going on when that odd little man with the long name stepped up and volunteered to spin straw into gold for the miller's daughter? If you stop and think about it, there are some very peculiar and rather hard-to-explain components to the story.
Vivian Vande Velde has wondered too, and she's come up with these six alternative versions of t
ebook, 128 pages
Published August 28th 2000 by Hmh Books for Young Readers (first published January 1st 2000)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Aug 08, 2015 Emma rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who enjoys seeing fairy tales turned upside down, inside out, or sideways
You probably already know the story of Rumpelstiltskin. Just in case you don't quite remember it, here are the details: A poor miller tells the king that his daughter can spin straw into gold. But she can't. The king then brings the daughter to the castle to spin some straw into gold. She is very highly motivated to do so since the king will kill her if she doesn't. So, the girl is in a bit of trouble, right? Luckily, a little man drops by and offers to spin the straw into gold for the girl. Fir ...more
Jul 18, 2010 Amalia rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A friend of mine picked this book up at a used bookstore and decided it would be something I would like! Well, I love children's literature, including fairy tales. I have a particular soft spot for fairy tale retellings so I can see what my friend saw I would see in this slim volume. Do you see what I mean?

Ok. Down to business. The six retellings in this book are all interesting twists on the original. I definitely preferred some over others and probably liked the last one the best. However, I m
Jun 05, 2007 Q rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fairy tale lovers
Let's consider Rumplestiltskin for a minute... we all know the story. There are some severe problems with it- even more so than normally seen in fairy tales. Among them:

1. Why in the world would the miller tell the king something as stupid and obviously false and impossible as "my daughter can spin straw into gold"?

2. How the heck did he MEET the king in the first place?

3. Why does the daughter go along with this... and what is her freaking name, anyway??

4. Why does she decide to marry the guy w
In The Rumpelstiltskin Problem, Vivian Vande Velde writes six wildly different stories that "fix" the Rumpelstiltskin story to answer questions such as why a miller would claim that his daughter could spin straw into gold, why Rumpelstiltskin wanted a baby, or why Rumpelstiltskin would accept a gold ring or necklace as payment when he could spin all the gold he wanted out of straw. All of the stories were just slightly outlandish, but mostly fun.

"Fixing" a fairy tale in this way is a clever ide
Megan (ReadingRover)
This was an interesting little book. Rumpelstiltskin is one of those fairytales that is a little odd to begin with but has always been one I liked. The author wrote this book because of how illogical and unrealistic the story of Rumpelstiltskin is. I realize that most if not all fairytales are like that but Rumpelstiltskin is ridiculously so in some ways when you break it down. The author makes some good points. Why would the Miller boast such blatant lies about his daughter's spinning talents k ...more
Emily Y.
I love this story because in author's notes she wrote something. For this thing, you won't think that it is true unless you really think it is. That statement is: The story Rumpelstiltskin does not really make sense although you might think it does make sense. But if you really think it over, you might think of some questions. That is what the author did and has thought of some question like: why did the king believe the miller who said that his daughter can spin gold? Why would Rumpelstiltskin ...more
"In some cases, so many details have been lost that the story stops making sense. That's how I feel about the story of Rumpelstiltsking-it makes no sense," is Vivian Vande Velde's rationale for writing The Rumpelstiltskin Problem. The book begins with a very entertaining author's note where she questions the ins and outs of the popular fairy tale, pointing out things I have been thinking of as I have read through multiple versions of the story. Why does the miller tell the king his daughter can ...more
Aug 31, 2009 Emily rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In an introduction that had me laughing out loud, author Vande Velde compares fairy tales to the game "telephone." Because fairy tales were strictly oral for so long, many elements naturally changed over the years. In some cases, details of the original story may be missing, and the result does not always make sense. This, says the author, may explain her trouble with Rumplestiltskin, a story she feels makes no sense whatsoever. She outlines all the holes in the story and offers six different ve ...more
Feb 08, 2010 Heidi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ages 10-Adult
In six hilarious short stories, Vande Velde solves the Rumpelstiltskin problem--the many details of the story that do not make sense. She manipulates character flaws, motivations, and talents to explain the absurd details of the original story. The Rumpelstiltskin characters include a cannibalistic troll with a desire to taste human baby, a romantic elf, a disguised father, and a burrowing Russian “Domovoi.” Readers’ sympathies will shift with every innovative version. The collectio
Olivia Ambrose
Apr 10, 2012 Olivia Ambrose rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Olivia Ambrose ~ Short Stories

“The Rumplestiltskin Problem” is six different versions the classic fairy tale that try to explain the plot points which in the original seem to make no sense whatsoever. Each version is innovative and different that the others and really fun to read. Rumplestiltskin varies from an elf, a troll, a Domoviye, the miller himself, and someone who was made up. Each version allows a deeper look into the characters and their motivations for the silly things they did. This
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
Vande Velde introduces this book with an author's note in which she points out the problems with plot and characters in the traditional tale of "Rumpelstiltskin". She then offers 6 versions of the tale that solve those problems so that the story makes more sense. My favorite was "Straw into Gold", but I enjoyed them all. Vande Velde adds variety by setting them in different places, and in one version Rumpelstiltskin is actually a girl. This is a great study in variations on a theme. Recommended.
Jul 22, 2016 Elizabeth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have a soft spot in my heart for Rumpelstiltskin, so when I read the author’s note that prefaced The Rumpelstiltskin Problem, I was a little disgruntled at how Vande Velde so callously tore apart my beloved fairy tale. Luckily, the six tongue-in-cheek “retellings” that followed were hilariously simple and brilliant reimaginings of the original fairytale. All of Vande Velde’s “explanations” for some of the odd occurences were wonderful, and I liked that she took a different approach for each st ...more
Reading is my Escape
Six variations of the classic fairy tale.
"Have you ever wondered just what was going on when that odd little man with the long name stepped up and volunteered to spin straw into gold for the miller's daughter?"

In this book, various miller's daughters confront their deadly situation in different ways, some funny, some scary and some just sad. Vivian Vande Velde has done a great job imagining ways that the miller's daughter could have gotten into the situation in the first place. She details why
Aug 27, 2009 Dawn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Dawn by: Wendy
This is a fun little book of six short stories. Each one presents the Rumpelstiltskin tale in a different way as the author imagines answers to questions like "Who was Rumpelstiltskin and why did he want the baby anyway?" I enjoyed the author's skill in crafting stories with different points of view and such distinct voices. The stories were humorous and I could tell she'd had fun writing them. My favorites were the one where R. is an elf and the one told from the king's point of view.
About “Rumpelstiltskin,” Vande Velde has a number of questions. Why would the miller randomly tell the king that his daughter can spin straw into gold? Why would the miller’s daughter agree to marry a man who three times threatens her with death (well, ok, he’s the king, so maybe saying no isn’t an option)? Why would Rumpelstiltskin sing such a conveniently obvious song about his name? So, as she did for Cloaked in Red, Vande Velde tells her own versions of the story.

My favorites were “Straw Int
Mar 15, 2010 Carolyn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who's ever read/heard Rumplestiltskin.
Excellent! Six different retellings of the story 'Rumplestiltskin', as well as the original version, exploring such topics as:
--Why would Rumplestiltskin want a human baby?
--How would a miller come to be speaking to a king?
--Why would the miller say such a thing about his daughter in the first place?
and so on.
Mar 21, 2015 Jade rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Split into six different variations of Rumpelstiltskin, this is a fun, easy read that fills in the blanks of the traditional story in plenty of unique ways. In the author's note, Velde brings up questions that the traditional tale doesn't answer and proceeds to do so herself by introducing her own "spins" on the story. In one, Rumpelstiltskin is the miller; in another he's a she (an old woman that wants a child.) There's even a story where he's completely absent. All of them have interesting ele ...more

Short, but sweet this short book of stories dealing with the fairy tale of Rumpelstiltskin Velde tries the story from multiple points of view show the possibilities of the fairy tale that are not explained in text. I really enjoyed reading this.
Ms. Mielke's Class Make sure you post how your sheets tell you to!!!!
The Rumpelstiltskin Problem has five stories about Rumpelstiltskin. They are all pretty much the same, the miller tells the king that his daughter can spin straw into gold. Then the king takes the daughter and threatens to kill her if she does not spin the straw into gold. Rumpelstiltskin comes and helps her, and she marries the king. My favorite one was were the miller sold their mill and all of their possesions to get enough gold to give to his daughter, who gave it to the king. After three da ...more
Susie Steadman
Dec 13, 2013 Susie Steadman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this quick read. 6 tales retelling Rumpelstiltskin so that the basic problems with the story can be answered? Yup, that's right up my alley.
Sarah Crawford
Feb 27, 2016 Sarah Crawford rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book opens with an absolutely hilarious (and I mean really, really hilarious) analysis of the Rumpelstiltskin fairy tale, with Vivian Velde point out then numerous incidents of lack of logic and intelligence in the original story. She then proceeds to tell it herself in a variety of ways.

In the first story, Rumpelstiltskin wants to find out what human babies taste like. He devises a place, somewhat long-term, for getting a baby to eat, using the miller's daughter and his spinning-straw-into-
Feb 24, 2015 HBalikov rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There is a lot about classic fairy tales that Vivian Vande Velde doesn't like. Most of all, they don't really make sense. So, she has, here, deconstructed the tale of Rumpelstiltskin and then put it back together in six very different ways.

She is clever; she is literate; and she is funny ---- making for a very enjoyable read. It made me think about jazz. I seem to like this book and jazz for many of the same reasons: the improvisation; the riffing on a recognized theme; and, the surprises along
Jun 25, 2014 Dovey rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fairy-tales
This is a collection of short stories each retelling the story of Rumpelstiltskin. I thought Velde did a good job of coming up with some varied takes on the basic story and enjoyed her writing style, which was frequently very amusing.

However, the style and tone of each story was pretty much identical. Even though the villains and heros and circumstances changed, they were all third person narration, upbeat with occasional flippancy, and gave the same level of detail to each aspect of the story.
Sep 28, 2016 Jessica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First saw this book in a lovely used bookstore in Asheville. Clever execution and witty, charming writing for variations on the fairy tale. Like all oral history, fairy tales change the more they're retold, like in the children's game I know as "Telephone," she calls "Gossip." The author's premise is imagining new permutations and histories.

I liked the repetition and improvisation, as shown by the first lines of each story:
*A Fairy Tale in Bad Taste: Once upon a time, before pizzerias or Taco
Leiden Sergeyevna
I want to comment about the introduction first. Vande Velde mentions in her introduction how old stories are passed on by word of mouth, thus some of the details are lost or added in that process. It is somewhat implied that Rumpelstiltskin, with its many plot holes, might have gone through that process of passing stories.

The Grimm brothers wrote the Rumpelstiltskin story just as it is. There are actually more stories by the Grimm brothers with unexplainable plot holes because, it seems to me, t
Now this is a brilliant idea. As Vande Velde points out in her brief prefatory Author's Note, "Rumpelstiltskin" is folklore, and sometimes folklore isn't good as far as stories go. Really, most fairy tales not only copy one another, but they don't make the slightest bit of sense. Writing stories is best left to writers, is what I'm saying.

So, the core fairy tale is crap. Vande Velde then gives us six different stories based on the idea that all make more sense. The villain of the piece can be th
Nov 21, 2009 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really like the concept of this book, as well as the book itself. I am always wondering, “Why?” and “What if?” about stories. Since fairytales and folktales are fairly flat by the very nature of the genre, I have a tendency to want to know more. Sometimes I am curious about the background of a character or his/ her motivation. I want to know things like, “Is that character just evil by nature or did something happen to that character to make him/her so evil?” Often the cynic in me wonders if t ...more
The Rumpelstiltskin Problem by Vivian Vande Velede is a collection of stories all based on Rumpelstiltskin. One story is about a prince who goes and get's to know his people more so his enemy won't come in and win them over. When he is out he meets a miller who says his daughter can turn yarn into gold. The prince is like well I have to meet her one day. That night Cathleen, the miller's daughter, shows up saying she has been invited. They allow her to spend the night. She makes this big scene a ...more
€ℒᓰzᗩßℯЋ ツ
It's ok so far. But I had to return it to the library, so I'll read the rest later.
^^^ written a long time ago.

I finally finished it!!!! I borrowed like 50 books from my friends bookshelf one time, and this was one I took home! I think it's a really funny, good book. In the book, it retells the Rumpelstiltskin story like 5 or 6 different ways. And I really like about half of them, the other half just made me not like the story, or think one of the characters was stupid (which the father was in
Little Red Hat
Having studied fairy tales as part of an English degree, I'm interested in how these stories are adapted and reworked over time and in different cultures. "The Rumpelstiltskin Problem" is just one author's re-imaginings of one single tale, but it truly highlights the many possibilities adaptation can have, as well as the effect on the reader.

Basically, this collection retells the "Rumpelstiltskin" story in six different ways, changing lead character, perspective, genders, species, roles, and all
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
What's The Name o...: Children's book. Retelling of Rumpelstiltskin. [s] 4 20 Jul 11, 2013 10:44AM  
  • A Wolf at the Door: And Other Retold Fairy Tales
  • Straw Into Gold
  • Thornspell
  • Spinners
  • The Runaway Princess (Runaway Princess, #1)
  • Out of the Wild (Into the Wild, #2)
  • The Thirteenth Princess
  • Goose Chase
  • The Fairy's Return (The Princess Tales, #6)
  • The Shadow of the Bear (A Fairy Tale Retold #1)
  • Mira, Mirror
  • Sold for Endless Rue
  • The Wild Orchid: A Retelling of "The Ballad of Mulan" (Once Upon a Time Fairytales)
  • The Swan Maiden
  • The Crimson Thread: A Retelling of "Rumpelstiltskin" (Once Upon a Time Fairytales)
  • Never After
  • The Phoenix Dance
Vivian Vande Velde (born 1951, currently residing in Rochester, New York) is an American author who writes books primarily aimed at young adults.

Her novels and short story collections usually have some element of horror or fantasy, but are primarily humorous. Her book Never Trust a Dead Man (1999) received the 2000 Edgar Award for Best Young Adult Novel. She says that she really likes to write for
More about Vivian Vande Velde...

Share This Book