80 of 83 people found the following review helpful
on June 25, 2008
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.
32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
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".
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
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.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on November 12, 2001
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.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on May 5, 2002
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.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on August 5, 2001
I first encountered this exquisite book when it was featured at a book store's children's story hour. Unfortunately, I didn't get to hear the end, because several mothers insisted that the reader abandon it and go on to the next book. You see, in this version, months after the prince climbs Rapunzel's hair to the tower where she is imprisoned, she gives birth to twins. The children listening to the story were roughly 2 to 6 years old and I guess their mothers didn't want them exposed to a fairy tale heroine giving birth.
What a loss! 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 first part of the story is the one everyone remembers from childhood. A sorceress locks Rapunzel in a tower that no one can reach unless the young woman lets them climb up her long hair, but a prince learns her secret and enters the tower. In the rather lame version I remember hearing as a child, the prince takes her away (I can't even remember how they got out of the tower), marries her and they live happily ever after. In this version, the sorceress discovers Rapunzel's pregnancy and banishes her from the tower. She then tricks the prince into climbing to the top of the tower, and causes him to fall, which blinds him. Rapunzel and the prince wander in the wilderness until they find each other. In the end, Rapunzel's tears of love and pity fall across the prince's eyes and cure his blindness.
It's a lovely tale of healing love, deepened by the illustrations, which are not just beautiful, but full of wonderful details, gestures and facial expressions that bring out the humanity, the love, the fears, and the triumphs of the characters. Every time I read this book, my daughter stops me repeatedly to talk about what the characters are thinking and feeling - things she picks up more from the illustrations than the story itself. It's one of her favorite books, and one of mine as well.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on September 20, 2000
Paul O. Zelinsky's "Rapunzel" is a delight of renaissance-like oil paintings depicting a delicately beautiful girl, a frightening witch, and a handsome prince. The illustrations are truly superb, and each page features a beautifully rendered painting rich with color and detail.
Zelinsky's retelling of the story is traditional yet satisfying, but the illustrations really steal the show. Children will get caught up in the fairytale landscapes and the magical locales. Readers will also appreciate the additional information provided by Zelinsky about his retelling of the story and his study of Italian Renaissance art. It's always nice to know why artists choose to illustrate stories in a certain way.
This book won the Caldecott Medal for its fantastic illustrations.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on November 18, 2001
Of course, I have to comment on the illustration. Really really detailed. You could almost separate each leave on each tree. Almost all of us know of the story about Rapunzel but this book brings it to life with the beautiful pictures on each page. So if you are looking for a book with really beautiful detailed drawings for your children to gaze at, this is it. They will keep wanting to open the book to look at the pretty pictures. I mean, come on, it won a Caldecott.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on July 31, 2000
Other reviewers have argues that this older version of this classic tale is inappropriate for the recommended age-group (4-8) because of the Rapunzel's pregnancy. I don't think that there is anything about the Rapunzel's relationship with the Prince that is not appropriate for a four year old. In fact, I think stories that raise questions are good for kids at this age. Frankly, my daughter was very accepting of the fact that Rapunzel was pregnant because I had also recently had a baby.
A more 'uncomfortable' question that this book raises is the fact that Rapunzel's natural parents gave her up to the sorceress. My daughter was bothered by this fact, and continually asks me about this (would I had given her up? etc). For kids that are secure and not overly-sensitive, this is still safe ground. I don't believe in being overly protective - unless there is a good reason like child's insecurity due to absence of a parent, for example. Other questions to anticipate (that are not so easy as the pregnancy issue) are: Why does the sorceress keep Rapunzel locked-up? Why does she hurt the Prince, whom Rapunzel loves? Depending upon the situation and the child(ren) this book may be wonderful or inappropriate.
As long as there is no good reason to avoid a "non-sugar-coated" version of the story, you may want to indulge your children - and yourself - in the magnificant illustrations of this book - as well as the more 'authentic' narrative.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on March 23, 1998
An excellent choice for many ages. This book is a beautiful and rich rendition of a traditional tale. Zelinsky has filled the pages with orderly, exquisitie details that are reminescent of Renaissance paintinings. The illustrations merit review closely and the reader will find new wonders each time they visit the work. Children of all ages will find enjoyment in these pages. Readers may particularly enjoy the intricate tower Rapunzel is locked in. The text has just enough suspense and evil and good strike a comfortable balance for chlidren.