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4.17  ·  Rating details ·  15,659 ratings  ·  1,156 reviews
Surely among the most original and gifted of children's book illustrators, Paul O. Zelinsky has once again with unmatched emotional authority, control of space, and narrativecapability brought forth a unique vision for an age-old tale. Few artists at work today can touch the level at which his paintings tell a story and exert their hold.Zelinsky's retelling of Rapunzel ...more
Hardcover, 36 pages
Published 1997 by Dutton Children's Books
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Average rating 4.17  · 
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 ·  15,659 ratings  ·  1,156 reviews

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Paul uses the Italian Renaissance style of painting for the illustrations. It’s lovely and it has a very unique feel to it. The original story of Rapunzel originates from Italy in a tale called ‘Petrosinella’ or parsley. He melds this with pieces of Grimm’s tale for a story from his pen. Rapunzel is taken to a tower at 12. It basically serves as a chastity belt. The thing is, there is no education so when the girl meets a man the first time, nature takes its course and she gets pregnant. How ...more
The folktale (fairy tale) of Rapunzel is more often than not (and even amongst a goodly number academics, it seems) considered to primarily be of German origin (collected by the Brothers Grimm and included in their famous Kinder- und Hausmärchen). However, as Paul O. Zelinsky brilliantly demonstrates in and with his informative afterword on the genesis and development of the former, this assumption is only partially correct (including Rapunzel's designation as a true and absolute folktale, as it ...more
I really appreciated everything about Zelinsky's "Rapunzel" from his detailed author's note to his thoughtful adaptation to the faithful representation of Renaissance art. (Alas, the Renaissance style has never been one of my favorites so I didn't personally love the illustrations, though I find a great deal of merit in them. His work really makes an impression, I feel. I still get a little shiver when I think of his Rumplestiltskin, whom I met in childhood.) I liked his less-"Grimm" version of ...more
Nhi Nguyễn
Gorgeous illustrations that pay homage to Renaissance art. A story that takes inspiration from various sources of the "Rapunzel" story that we all know. I never knew that the name of the female protagonist - Rapunzel - was taken from an herb plant called rapunzel, or rampion. And the story itself wasn't the "folk tale" that the Grimm brothers made it out to be. It was an adaption of their own story written many years before, and in turn, this story was inspired from a French version that took ...more
Jan 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
I do very much like this version. I like that the 'witch' is here known as a 'sorceress.' I like that here the girl is hidden, but not locked up in the tower, until she is twelve. I have always preferred the versions that included the twin babies. I mean, it's only natural that the sorceress needs to learn the lesson of the folly of over-protection. Lots of parents need to learn that lesson!

Author's note explains origins of tale, and choice of setting for the art.
Jun 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Zelinsky is a better artist than a writer, in my opinion, so this wasn't as impressive as his other work I've read. But it's still a very good version of "Rapunzel" that's going to be a keeper for me.
Jul 13, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-for-kids
Maybe because my teacher said something in class, but I was expecting something different from this book. I thought maybe it would be 'de-constructing' the fairy tale in someway, but instead it was just sort of putting it together in a mismash of various versions, some Grimm, some earlier traditions. The illustrations were interesting, and the abundance of cats in the pictures were nice.
Ashley Adams
Dec 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
1. Picture Book: Traditional Literature
2. This is the retelling of Rapunzel, the story of a young girl who is forced to grow up in isolation and confinement because a sorceress is hiding her from the king, when she meets a prince who is enchanted by her voice and her long, lustrous hair. She then has to learn how to live on her own after many years of confinement, and is reunited with her prince.
3. Critique:
a. Zelinsky brings the age-old tale of Rapunzel to life with his beautiful
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
Once upon a time there was a happily married couple whose only sorrow was that they did not have a child. Then one day, they learn the woman is pregnant and the sorrow is replaced with joy. The wife liked to sit by the window overlooking a beautiful walled garden owned by a sorceress. One day she saw an abundant bed of the herb rapunzel, and a great need to eat some overcome her. Telling her husband she will die if she doesn't have some, he dutifully climbs down into the garden and steals some. ...more
“Rapunzel” is a Caldecott Medal award winning book from the talented Paul O. Zelinsky and it is a classic Brothers Grimm tale about how a young woman named Rapunzel meets her true love after being trapped in a tower for many years and how she tries to keep this secret from a wicked sorceress. “Rapunzel” is truly a captivating story about true love that many children will love for many years.

Paul O. Zelinsky’s story about a young girl imprisoned in her castle has been a cult classic in the fairy
The story of Rapunzel was always one of my favorite fairy tales growing up. I was intrigued by the idea of a girl kept hidden in a tower, letting her hair down to let the world in, but never being able to leave that tower. With sumptuous oil paintings that allow the beauty of the tower and Rapunzel with her amazingly-long tresses to be highlighted, the author/illustrator takes readers to a different place and time than their current surroundings. Echoing as he does the style of Italian ...more
Dec 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: caldecott
1998 Caldecott Medal - Favorite Illustration: When the prince and Rapunzel are headed back toward his kingdom, each carrying a child.
I adore these illustrations! The rendering of this fairy tale using the Italian Renaissance style is absolutely beautiful. I thought the text was simply a standard version of the story but you almost don't need any words as the pictures have so much detail you could "read" the story from them alone. Also, I have always loved the ending of this version, with
Kristine Hansen
Sep 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
If you're a fan of the Italian Renaissance, this is a version that will visually delight. The story of Rapunzel is re-told with a blending of versions that is interesting and not too scary (thanks for all the nightmares Brothers Grimm!). The detail is exquisite and each picture begs to be lingered over. I appreciated the notes at the end about the original story as well.

Overall, the best part? Finding out the tower is related to Dr. Who's TARDIS apparently. I would have liked to explore the
May 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This Caldecott winner is the familiar story of Rapunzel but the watercolor paintings that accompany it are absolutely beautiful. The story itself is a simple retelling of the fairy tale but it is made all the richer with Zelinsky's incredible paintings. Recommended for middle elementary students.
Sep 26, 2017 rated it liked it
This is a hard book for me to rate. On one hand, it had intricate illustrations that many will love, and the story was certainly exciting. However, as a mom, this book just felt very uncomfortable to me. I felt like the pregnancies and babies in the story were ...well...awkward.
5 stars for both the Italian Renaissance style paintings and the lovely retelling of the Rapunzel tale, both by Paul O Zelinsky. 1998 Caldecott winner.
Linda Lipko
Combining various components of the folk tale of Rapunzel, Zelinsky tells of a pregnant wife who craves the herb Rapunzel which is found in the forbidden garden of a wicked sorceress.

The husband cuts and brings home the treat for his wife to consume.

When the sorceress discovers the deceit, she tells the husband either the wife must die, or she must give the baby to her.

The child, a beautiful baby girl, is given to the sorceress who then raises the child and when she becomes a lovely woman, is
Based on the Grimm brothers version of Rapunzel (which was based on several older versions of similar stories). Gorgeous illustrations.

Reread January 2016. I really loved this version of Rapunzel. I appreciated Zelinsky's author's note about the origins of the Rapunzel story. I really, really love the illustrations. They are breathtaking. The Caldecott Medal was well deserved.
Maggie Ignasiak
Jan 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This retelling is masterful, mixing its many origins. I also love the artwork, and it %100 earned its Caldecott win. I love this so much.
John Yelverton
Jul 31, 2011 rated it really liked it
A very fun story, but it definitely depends on what version you read.
Nancy Kotkin
A retelling of the fairy tale Rapunzel from the Brothers Grimm. An author's note in the back of the book traces the roots of this fairy tale in all its variations. The art is truly breathtaking.
Dec 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Drum roll please....I HAVE READ ALL THE CALDECOTT WINNERS up to this year 2019!!! And what a book to end on. Rapunzel by Paul O. Zelinsky is a most beautifully illustrated and retold copy of this classic tale! I would also say that from my limited knowledge of Rapunzel this is my favorite retelling. Mr. Zelinsky gives a short history of the tale at the end of this book and it is worth the read!
Haley Hambrick
May 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: exam-2
Rapunzel is a childhood story every child should read at some point I believe. This is great for all young children elementary school-aged. It has earned a Caldecott Medal award. The soft artwork through the whole book is a great visual aid for the reader, especially because if you haven't heard of Repunzel imagining someone climb up someones hair could be difficult. The paintings of Rapunzel hair hanging down the tower is an important attribute to the story. The cover page shows Repunzel in her ...more
Sep 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Mark as A, B, and C
A = In this re-telling of a classic tail, Paul Zelinsky blends the more modern Grimm tale with an older Neapolitan story "Petronsinella". A new husband and soon to be father tries to satisfy his wife's craving for the rapunzel growing in the sorceress's garden next door. Caught stealing, he agree to give his new baby to the sorceress in return. The sorceress raises the child and then places her in the woods in a high tower with no entrance except a high window. The only access
This is an amazing tale! Please note anyone who sees this review, I'm not reviewing this particular edition but the early version of the story "Persinette" by Charlotte-Rose de Caumont de La Force, that became an influence to the Grimm's Fairy tale. (Still, I'd love to check out the paintings in this book!!!)

First of all, this is a warning to parents: This is not for your 5 year old! Rapunzel innocently says that her dress is getting tight around her belly (yep, she's pregnant! try reading that
Morgan Goertz
May 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Rapunzel has always been one of my favorite stories and I really enjoyed Zelinsky's version of it. I think its really cool that he does both the writing and illustrating of the book. The pictures are really incredible and he pays so much attention to detail. The pictures have so much detail it almost looks like you are looking at a photograph. In the plants you can see every leaf and petal, there can be the tiniest of flowers and you can still see every petal and flower center to them. On the ...more
Mar 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: parents reading with their children
Paul O. Zelinsky's book is a fantastic version of the classic Brothers Grimm story with breathtaking illustrations. Each page brings another visual masterpiece that only enhances this magical tale. A wonderful story to read with older children.

I loved the expanded information at the end of the book that describes the origins of the story. We've read this book a couple of times and it's one of our favorite fairy tales.

Mar 2012 update: We watched this story on DVD as part of Scholastic's
Mariah Olson
Rapunzel is another book I’ve known and read since I was a little girl and is one of those ‘princess locked away in the tower’ books that most young girls love to read about, considering she gets rescued by the handsome prince. The illustrations in this book gave great pictures to go along with the reading by showing the characters vividly and the places they went. The tower was beautifully drawn as well as Rapunzel and the details in her long, braided hair. I loved how the sorceress was shown ...more
Abby-Rose Margarida Sparrow

This book is BEAUTIFUL.

My favorite version of Rapunzel to-date. The story is well-told and the pictures are not only GORGEOUS, they're REAL somehow... The expressions on the faces, the folds of fabric, the background details (there's a cat you see growing up alongside Rapunzel and you can also see it following her throughout the story, which is really cute... And even just the interior of the tower, houses, the witch's garden are so VIVID) looks so lifelike...

I've seen some reviewers on
Jan 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Not only are the oil paintings in this book gorgeous and lush, there are many little interesting details for the one who peruses the pictures: the pangolin, peacock, European bee-eater, and tarsier in the sorceress's garden for instance (she must have been an animal collector as well as a gardener). Also, the blue-eyed Siamese cat that seems to have been Rapunzel's constant companion, and also seems to be subtly leading the prince around in his wanderings. The bell tower is stunning; I would ...more
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Born 1953

Paul O. Zelinsky grew up in Wilmette, Illinois, the son of a mathematics professor and a medical illustrator. He drew compulsively from an early age, but did not know until college that this would be his career. As a Sophomore in Yale College he enrolled in a course on the history and practice of the picture book, co-taught by an English professor and Maurice Sendak. This experience