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The Rumpelstiltskin Problem

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  3,001 Ratings  ·  291 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
Hardcover, 128 pages
Published August 28th 2000 by HMH Books for Young Readers (first published January 1st 2000)
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Allana Knight A parody is anything that takes a satirical or critical stance on an original work. Parody is one of the few instances in which original source…moreA parody is anything that takes a satirical or critical stance on an original work. Parody is one of the few instances in which original source material may be reused without the express permission of the author or rights holder, according to U.S. law. Examples would include Bored of the Rings and The Very Potter Musical.(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Emma (Miss Print)
Sep 05, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 22, 2010 rated it it was ok
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 rated it really liked it
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
Allison Tebo
Aug 22, 2017 rated it really liked it

Well, overall that was very cute! From the utterly charming introduction I was hooked - this authoress has a real talent for doing the super short story but delving so deeply into the nooks and crannies of fairy tales with such humor. There was only a few things that kept me from giving it a higher rating.

A Fairy Tale In Bad Taste: While this was a really funny set and had hysterical scenes scattered through it, things turned grisly.

Straw Into Gold: This one was
I love fairy tales and I totally love fractured fairy tales. Vivian's view of the whole story about Rumpelstiltskin spoke of comedian levels of humor. As if I were watching her on stage discussing this story and how it totally doesn't make any sense at all. How did they get from point A to point D where did all the middle of the story go?

"At the castle the king locks the girl into a room and tells her, 'Spin this straw into gold, or tomorrow you shall die.' Not my idea of a promising first date.
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
Julie Guzzetta
Jun 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fairy-tales
I loved this!! What a clever idea to rewrite Rumplestiltskin multiple times! And what a great writing exercise that would be! I may have to do that myself with a different fairy tale. But I very much enjoyed her different takes on this one story. Each were thoughtful and creative. I’ll definitely be rereading this.
Joe Lyons
Jun 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful and clever! I used this book to re-read the Rumpelstiltskin stories with two teenage girls who I was homeschooling. It was our first foray into comparative narrative. I think we all got a lot out of this little book.
Jun 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
A fun little book with 6 alternative versions of Rumpelstiltskin. I read the book through in one day, so the versions all kind of blended together. I recommend reading one a day so they can each be enjoyed on their own.
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
Feb 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing
"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
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
Aug 31, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Oct 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
I first ran across this book in a library when I was quite small, and I've been coming back to it on and off for most of my life.

The Rumpelstiltskin Problem is a collection of short stories that address Vande Velde's concerns about the fairy tale, which are less "this is problematic" and more "this doesn't make any goddamn sense." She came up with six variations of the story that did make sense, and wrote them down. I'm fond of them all, but I think my very favorite is Straw into Gold, in which
Feb 03, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
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.
Nov 03, 2008 rated it liked it
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.
Oct 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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.

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.
Susie Steadman
Jul 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
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.
Tamara Menninger
Feb 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: trc2017
As a lifelong lover of fairy tales and a fan of Once Upon a Time since its beginning (and hooked since Robert Carlyle graced my television screen as Rumpelstiltskin), I searched our library catalog on a whim to see what a keyword search of Rumpelstiltskin and discovered this gem of short stories published in 2000 through the Ohio Digital Library site. Vivian Vande Velde captured my attention immediately with the introduction about the "Rumpelstiltskin Problem" as she wittingly explained flaws in ...more
Allana Knight
Jul 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I'm going to make it clear that my rating for this book is based on the premise that the book, as far as I can tell, is meant to be more of a thought experiment than a work of literature. For that reason, I love it. Velde basically thinks through the problems inherent in the story of Rumpelstiltskin through the medium of short stories. The stories have various genres and styles and deviate from the best-known version of the fairy tale in many different ways. Sometimes Rumpelstiltskin is the hero ...more
May 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Rumpelstiltskin Problem was a fun collection of various “fixes” for the original Rumpelstiltskin story. The book is aimed at young readers, but it was still enjoyable for me as an adult.

Granted, a few of the stories were a lot better than others, but overall, I'd rate this 4/5 stars. The author clearly put some thought into each story, and how it could be fixed, as according to her forward.

I don't really have much to say about this, other than it was cute. A quick read. If you like “fix-it sto
Danielle Routh
Aug 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The premise of this compendium is that the tale of Rumpelstiltskin makes very little sense, which is true. Vivian Vande Velde, therefore, takes that premise and spins it into six stories that explore six different ways the story might have occurred to yield the odd results of the original tale. It's fun, fast, and a great read for both people who love fairy tales and people who like to pick them apart.
Jun 30, 2018 rated it liked it
Way back in 3rd grade the teachers did this thing on Friday afternoon where one could chose between Inside Fun, Outside Fun, and Study Hall. I always chose Inside Fun, and used the time to investigate the other teacher's books.

I have a memory of coming back to this book a few times to finish it. I'm only partial sure that I really did read it all. Ooooo, I should try to find my book log from that year and see if it's there! Yeah, I'll never get around to that.
Sarah TheAromaofBooks
The preface of this book is the author complaining about how the traditional story of Rumpelstiltskin makes zero sense. Then she presents us with several options that help fix those issues. Each one is quite different from the others and entertaining in its own right. These were fast little reads, and I'll have to see what else Velde has written.
Jul 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I have loved Rumpelstiltskin since the first time I heard it in first grade, and these retellings only made it better. It fills in the plot holes and re-imagines the characters in different ways. I was rooting for the miller's daughter at times, and Rumpelstiltskin at times.
Aug 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Despite only picking up the book for to fulfill a reading challenge, I was thoroughly entertained! I like how snarky the author was about the whole thing and the humor that came with each different spin on the old classic.
R.H. Ali
Jun 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly loved each of these 6 re-tellings of the Rumpelstiltskin story. The author is so whimsical in each. My favourite was the last story "as good as gold". I'd definitely recommend this book.
Emily Edmond
Apr 07, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: ya
Cute and clever! Definitely would buy for my lower level readers. The best part, in my opinion, was the introduction where Vande Velde explains how weird Rumpelstiltskin is...even by fairy tale standards! I never realized that, but she's absolutely right!
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What's the Name o...: Children's book. Retelling of Rumpelstiltskin. [s] 4 21 Jul 11, 2013 10:44AM  
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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

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“Some people," Rumpelstiltskin told the cats, "just aren't happy unless they aren't happy.” 0 likes
“Still, along comes a little man who, by happy coincidence, knows how to do what everyone wants.” 0 likes
More quotes…