Shanna Gonzalez's Reviews > Rumpelstiltskin: From the German of the Brothers Grimm

Rumpelstiltskin by Paul O. Zelinsky
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's review
Jul 28, 2009

it was amazing
bookshelves: children-04-08
Read in July, 2009

Zelinsky has done it again with his marvelous rendition of this classic fairy tale. His finely-detailed paintings capture the mood and marvel of this suspenseful story, in which a vulnerable young woman is three times required to accomplish the impossible task of spinning straw into gold, and she promises her firstborn to the gnome who offers to complete the task for her. When she has been made queen because of this feat he comes to collect his payment, and she must solve his impossible riddle to save her child.

The fine illustrations carry most of the story -- the vast countryside in which the miller meets the king emphasizes the strange chance which brings her to the castle as well as the impulsive greed of the king. The rooms of straw progressively become vaster, and the spools of gold thread sparkle in their pile behind the spindle. The miller's daughter is beautifully portrayed in her innocent distress and queenly dignity, and her greedy, absent husband is shown for what he is as he enters the room, gesturing questioningly, while she triumphantly holds her child. The text that accompanies Zelinsky's paintings is well written, each word chosen for precision and economy, and builds to a wonderful climax.

Rumpelstiltskin is one of the more popular of Grimm's fairy tales, and appears in many fairy-tale compilations. But a picture-book format provides an opportunity for a good artist to really draw out this story's timeless themes of greed, fear, despair, and maternal love, and the triumphant resolution of this story well balances its dark moments.
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