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Rapunzel (Caldecott Medal Book) Hardcover – October 1, 1997

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Rapunzel (Caldecott Medal Book) + Rumpelstiltskin + Hansel and Gretel
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 and up
  • Grade Level: Kindergarten and up
  • Lexile Measure: 700L (What's this?)
  • Series: Caldecott Medal Book
  • Hardcover: 48 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton Juvenile; 1 edition (October 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0525456074
  • ISBN-13: 978-0525456070
  • Product Dimensions: 12.4 x 9.3 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (91 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #159,146 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In older versions of the classic tale Rapunzel, it always seemed improbable that a grown man could scale a tower using only his beloved's hair. Not so in Paul O. Zelinsky's Caldecott Medal-winning version of Rapunzel. Here, Rapunzel's reddish-blonde mane is thick with waves and braids, and cascades like a waterfall down the walls of her isolation tower. In Zelinsky's able hands it's easy to believe that a prince would harbor no hesitations about scrambling up our fair heroine's hair.

Of course, this is not the work of an amateur--Zelinsky's lush versions of Hansel and Gretel, Rumpelstiltskin, and Swamp Angel all earned him Caldecott Honors. His gorgeous, Italian Renaissance-styled illustrations are characterized by warm golden tones and the mesmerizing sensation of trompe l'oeuil. Not only does he have the touch of a world-class illustrator, Zelinsky has also proven himself a master storyteller. We are frightened when the sorceress demands to take the baby Rapunzel, we are alarmed when the flowing locks are cruelly shorn, and we rejoice when the prince and his now modest-haired love are reunited. The notes at the back of Rapunzel reveal his careful scholarship regarding the long history of the story (tracing its origins and transformations from Italy to France and finally to Germany and the Grimm brothers)--work that no doubt contributed to his clean, compelling version of the age-old tale. Children will be captivated by the magical story and evocative pictures and adults will delight in the fresh feel of a well-loved legend. (Click to see a sample spread. Illustration © 1997 by Paul O. Zelinsky, published by Dutton Children's Books, a division of Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers.) (Ages 4 and older)

From Publishers Weekly

In our Best Book citation, PW said, "A breathtaking interpretation gives the fairy tale new art-historical roots, with illustrations that daringly-and effectively-mimic the masters of Italian Renaissance painting." Ages 5-up. (Oct.)
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Very young and older child both will really enjoy this book.
When I finally got a copy of the book to read, I found it to be one of the most moving children's books I've ever come across.
The illustrations are truly superb, and each page features a beautifully rendered painting rich with color and detail.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

69 of 72 people found the following review helpful By D. McEvoy on June 24, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This book is beautifully illustrated and well written, but the text may be too mature for many young children. I bought this for my four-year-old daughter. Reading it to her the first time, I was left a bit bemused when, on one page, Rapunzel is visited in the tower at night by the prince and then, on the next page, she's pregnant:

"'Rapunzel said, "If you please, Stepmother, help me with my dress, it doesn't want to fit me anymore.'
Instantly the sorceress understood what Rapunzel did not. 'Oh, you wicked child!' she shrieked. I thought I had kept you safe, away from the whole world...'"

I thought other parents might appreciate the warning, since you can't preview all the pages when buying a book online.
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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on December 4, 2003
Format: Hardcover
The winner of the Caldecott Medal, "Rapunzel" is one of the most lush and beautiful stories ever created for children. Carrying many of the distinctive Zelinsky elements (staggered perspectives, reoccurring background characters, gorgeous lighting, etc.) the book is a joy to look at. Each picture evokes the spirit of the Renaissance, from the first tableau (the husband and wife feeling her pregnant stomach in contentment) to the last (the loving family poses with the cherubim-like children). The text is a little more racy than your average children's picture book. Zelinsky doesn't shy away from the fact that Rapunzel is pregnant when the witch learns of her illicit relations, though he does legitimize the girl's newfound glow with a hasty "marriage" of the prince to Rapunzel in her tower. Sans priest, no less. The book is also remarkable for the dramatic shift that occurs in the character of the witch. A scowling ghoul in one picture, she transforms into an almost nunlike character when receiving the little Rapunzel baby. One might well ask what happens to the witch after she casts Rapunzel and her prince into the desert, but Zelinsky doesn't feel this is worth discussing. A perfect book for storytelling, as the pictures are colorful and easy to see from a distance. Would pair well with his other oil painted fairy tale "Rumplestiltskin".
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Judy K. Polhemus TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 3, 2008
Format: Paperback
There are many illustrated versions of Rapunzel on the children's market, but surely none can compare with Paul O. Zelinsky's Caldecott version.

As he explains in "A Note about Rapunzel" in the back of the book, he traced the history of the story and discovered its roots in Italy, determining then to set his version within the artwork of Renaissance Italy. Rapunzel is the German word for a salad green and root with a flavor between argula and watercress. In some stories the green is parsley called rampion.

In this version a young pregnant wife begins craving rapunzel which she sees outside her window. I must have it, must have it, she tells her husband, knowing that the garden in the courtyard below belongs to a sorceress. She has her rapunzel, but the witch catches the husband stealing it and makes him promise the baby to her.

As the story goes, the sorceress locks the pre-adolescent child in a campanile with no doors and only Rapunzel's long red-gold tresses as a rope to the top. The prince finds her, learns the secret to the top, avows his love, and she gets pregnant.

The story ends happily, of course, following the traditional plot line. What sets this version so very far apart from its siblings is the glorious Renaissance-like artwork. Flowing clothing, long, wavy hair, dark and silvery plant life, blue and gray haze in the background, particular people groupings, perfectly balanced settings, Roman ruins--all traditional aspects of Renaissance art are depicted.

One little intrusion into this Renaissance setting is a kitten whose growth is also measured by Rapunzel's. This Siamese is in almost every frame with Rapunzel all the way to the end which is a cozy tableau of family bliss.

This Rapunzel belongs in every home with a child and adults who appreciate the joy of children's books.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Todd Ihrig on November 12, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This past weekend, our 3-1/2 year old daughter's grandparents came into town. Her Nonna told her a bedtime story about Rapunzel, a story she had not heard before. She was enchanted. Needless to say, Nonna went out the next day to buy a book and she came home with Paul Zelinsky's beautiful book.
I can't comment on the accuracy and literary side of the book - I'm not an expert on the original tale. However, the writing is wonderful; the story is an easy read with younger children. But clearly, the illustrations are what set this book apart. Many children's books use child-like pictures - but each page of this book is a new and different work of art. Detail and texturing worthy of an art gallery make this a pleasure to view as well as read. Highly recommended.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Catherine S. Vodrey on May 5, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Paul Zelinsky is not only an extraordinarily talented artist--he trusts his readers. Zelinsky doesn't shy away from the grimness in this Grimm tale, and lets us see Rapunzel's naivete, her captivity, and her castigation without blinking. This may be a little too strong for some little readers, but it is truer to the original Brothers Grimm story than many other versions of the Rapunzel story.
Zelinsky captures the tale beautifully with his meticulously detailed illustrations, moving with ease and skill from the sensuous wilderness of the witch's garden (where Rapunzel's father goes to gather up the herb rapunzel for his pregnant wife to eat) to the austerity of Rapunzel's tower room. Rapunzel and her lover are portrayed as clear-eyed yet star-crossed lovers, not as cardboard fairy tale inhabitants. Zelinsky does much to humanize this often horrifying tale. Highly recommended.
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