8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "WHY?"
Many fantasy stories are based on "what ifs", but this particular one is based on "whys". Specifically, the "whys" of the old fairy tale "Rumplestiltskin," and why he wanted to steal away the infant prince. In a book market where just about every retelling or fairy tale sequel idea has been exhausted, Gary Schmidt crafts an intriguing tale which gives us the answers to...
Published on May 2, 2002 by E. A Solinas
1 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Straw into gold
Well, I really do not know why the publishers pubished this. This book was really bad if i could i would give it 0 stars. The writer was creative but he didn't focus on the story. He didn't put the charaters names untill half way though the book. The plot was boring, the end didn't finish the story. There was just no point to the story. The author does do a good job of...
Published on June 6, 2005
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "WHY?",
Many fantasy stories are based on "what ifs", but this particular one is based on "whys". Specifically, the "whys" of the old fairy tale "Rumplestiltskin," and why he wanted to steal away the infant prince. In a book market where just about every retelling or fairy tale sequel idea has been exhausted, Gary Schmidt crafts an intriguing tale which gives us the answers to our "whys."
Tousle and his small, odd-looking father (called only "Da") are travelling to the city of Wolverham, where a rebellion against one of the king's lords has just been stopped. Tousle notices the queen, a sweet but very sad woman who lost her infant son years ago; also a blind young boy his own age, who was arrested as one of the rebels. When the king asks the crowd if there is anyone who will ask for mercy for the rebels, both the queen and Tousle speak up.
The result is that the queen is sent back to the abbey where she lives, and Tousle is given seven days to unravel a riddle: What fills a hand fuller than a skein of gold? Tousle, unsurprisingly, has no idea. So he sets off with the blind rebel boy, Innes, to ask first Da and then the queen the answer to the riddle. But they are pursued both by the sinister King's Grip, the stirrings of a very different rebellion, and the question of what happened to the baby prince all those years ago. Where is he? Who is he? And could the queen recognize him now?
Schmidt does an exceptional job bringing a new spin and new explanation to the "whys" of Rumplestiltskin. It's pretty clear from the beginning who "Da" is, but not his motives; those don't become clear until the end. Instead the focus is on characters that are not always what they seem, such as Da and the King. Even the bad guys have layers.
His writing is very good, expressing the grittiness of medieval life without making it icky. Some passages are almost poetry; others are horrifying in their concept. My only beef (pun intended) is that he spends a great deal of time focusing on the food that people are eating. I don't mind this in moderation, but he was making me very hungry.
Tousle and Innes are a great couple of heroes. Tousle is a very honest, humble, good-natured young man who ends up in over his head. Innes is more of a mystery boy, in that you often don't know things about his past is or what he's thinking. We also have good supporting characters like the prince's nurse and her husband, and the kind, sad queen who is banished away from the castle because of the disappearance of her son.
This is a great story for those of you who enjoy Donna Jo Napoli, Robin McKinley and Gail Carson Levine (or Vivian Vande Velde's satirical "Rumplestiltskin Problem" book). Excellent sequel, and one for any fan of fairy tales or retellings.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'What fills a hand fuller than a skein of gold?',
A Kid's Review
*I checked this book out of a library, thinking it was good to read for this summer. And it was.
*It starts out retelling the story of the miller's daughter, except this time Rumpelstiltskin takes the child. Then the story zooms to about eleven years later to start the story of Tousle, who lives with his Da in cottage in the woods.
*In the beginning, Tousle is traveling to see the King's procession, but later finds that it's purpose is to hang those who rebelled against Lord Beryn(the bad guy). Tousle selflessly gives himself up to plea for the rebels lives. The King then takes Tousle aside and gives him the riddle that will save both the rebels lives and his own, 'What fills a hand fuller than a skein of gold?' Thus the adventure begins.
*Along with Innes, a blind Rebel, Tousle has seven days to find the answer to the riddle. But when they answer one, they'll answer another...
*This is a very marvelous book. It puts the reader on the edge of their seat and is funny enough to lighten it's dark demeanor. With it's twist at the end, the reader will learn more than the answer to the King's riddle.
* means beginnig of a paragraph.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rumpelstiltskin Revisited,
In this 2001 retelling of the fairytale Rumpelstiltskin by Gary Schmidt, two orphan boys named Tousle and Innes must find the answer to the king's riddle - What fills a hand fuller than a skein of gold? - within seven days or they and a group of "rebel" prisoners face execution.
The book begins with the traditional story of the miller's claim that his daughter can spin straw into gold, her weeping which brings the little man who does just that, and the little man carrying off her first-born son as payment. In this version, however, he does this before the queen, so overcome with grief that she cannot speak, can make her final guess concerning his name.
The narrative then moves ahead twelve years to Tousle and Innes and the riddle given to them by the king and his council of Great Lords. The boys decide to visit the queen, whom the king keeps sequestered in a convent. They soon find, however, that there are a number of people concerned with their safety - or the lack there of, as the case may be - and must find ways of avoiding all kinds of dangers, mostly soldiers with large, scary weapons but also those who easily succumb to the temptation of money in return for information on the whereabouts of two young boys.
As Tousle and Innes near the convent, rumors of a young prince who was carried off as a baby by a little man reach them. The reader, who has perhaps begun to wonder how this story-thread ties into the original tale of Rumpelstiltskin, begins to surmise that one of the boys is possibly the prince himself. After all, both are orphans; Tousle was raised by a little man named Da; it is unclear how or why Innes has been blinded by what appears to be a sword slash to his eyes; and at least one of the people with whom they seek refuge on their way to the queen mutters about strange likenesses to the king, although it is not obvious who is being described.
Needless to say, as this is a fairytale, all turns out well in the end, although this specific version of the familiar tale keeps the reader guessing until the very last page.
Retellings of fairytales are always intriguing because of what they reveal about a culture and its values but they are perhaps most interesting in this day and age of feminist critiques of gender roles in the original stories. This particular retelling does not, perhaps, make the strongest break from traditional gender roles as is possible. It might appear that the real reasons Tousle and Innes are on this "quest" is to rescue other female characters - Tousle: the queen from the grief which is clearly evident in her features when he catches a glimpse of her at the beginning of the story; and Innes: the two girls who have been so kind to him and are a part of the "rebels" who face death if the boys do not return with the answer to the king's riddle. The queen is, however, despite being controlled by the men in her life, a fairly strong character and when given an opportunity to significantly change her life, does not hesitate to take it despite the risks involved.
Minor points of contention with the book are: one, pronunciation of either of the main character's names is uncertain, a rather annoying feature were one to read this story aloud, and two, it is a bit confusing why, if the only life that Tousle remembers is that which he has had with Da, he knows to refer to himself in the first person, since the only voice Da ever uses is the third.
More information about the kingdom in which the story is set might also have been nice. One infers that the king is controlled by the members of his council, the Great Lords, but why? Why is the miller's house - the father of the queen - so ramshackle? What exactly has transpired between the queen and the king? One might argue that not having this information adds mystery to the story but there are times when not being in possession of such details may keep the reader from fully understanding the dynamics of the story and relationships between characters.
That being said, reading this book is an incredibly enjoyable process. The story is suspenseful and unpredictable, pulling one in so that, for all intents and purposes, one is within the story with Tousle and Innes. In fact, one may so enjoy spending time with these characters that one will find it necessary to delay reading the final chapter in order to prolong one's time within this story world.
This book should appeal to almost any age, although it addresses issues that are perhaps most relevant to the age for which it is intended: junior high. It explores relationships between human beings, both good and bad. It addresses the idea of "bad" occurrences later revealed to be the best and most necessary ones at the time. And perhaps most applicable of all, it speaks of feelings of not belonging anywhere in particular, of the envy of not knowing one's own gift (or gifts) when others know theirs, and the aloneness and insecurity which nearly everyone has known, or will know, at one time in their lives or another.
In all, this is a very good book, well-written and captivating, addressing a number of important issues pertinent to the age-group for which it is intended.
4.0 out of 5 stars spinning two tales into one,
Do you know "what fills a hand fuller than a skein of gold?" Neither did Tousle, but he had exactly seven days to learn the answer to this riddle-and failure was not an option. This doesn't sound much like the story of Rumpelstiltskin you heard in your younger years, but Gary Schmidt delved deeper into the tale, pursuing questions that are always unanswered at the conclusion of fairy tales, notably the question of `why?'. His readers follow him on a remarkable tale of what might have happened between the Queen's second and third guesses of the little man's name.
Straw into Gold follows the journey of two 11-year-old boys, Innes and Tousle, who are a mission to solve the riddle. Along the way they encounter friend and foe, and help from a strange little man with spindly fingers, eyes like a frog's, and a curious gait, known only as Tousle's Da until the end of the story. Through it all, we travel with two ordinary boys with extraordinary spirit, and follow the unique twists and turns Schmidt uses to weave the fairy tale and his story together into one.
We follow the journeys of Innes and Tousle as they seek their answer, and we see them start to discover who each other is but also who they as individuals. Tousle has been sheltered all his life, and now he is learning what sort of choices he has to make in the real world. He starts seeking to find where he belongs and exactly what his relationship to the Queen really is.
On their travels, the boys meet friends who help them, even though by doing so they endanger themselves. One particularly poignant scene has the boys seeking shelter at a mill Tousle had passed on his way into town the day before. Out of kindness he had stopped to help an old woman with her buckets of water, and now his kindness is repaid to Innes and him. He tells his companions this they, but the nurse informs him that "nothing is ever quite by chance." This continues to hold true throughout the story as the boys realize that everything has a purpose.
Schmidt uses a beautiful metaphor in the story, the idea of life as a design. As Tousle is seeking the answer to the riddle, he is also seeking his place in the design. He thinks of life as a design, but he cannot figure his out. Everyone else knows what their gift is, where they fit in life, but Tousle is confused-he does not know what his design looks like or how he is supposed to fit in it. Through the novel, he learns that it comes one curl at a time. When one curl is complete the next one begins-he doesn't know where or how, but it will come. Through Tousle's journey we too find that our lives are designs in progress, but sometimes it curls around and we do not see what's ahead for us. These scenes gently imply that there is One who is in control, but it is left lingering in the air instead of being brought down and discussed in the story.
Schmidt says this idea came to him while he was sitting and wondering by his wood stove. He answers questions, but he also provokes them. We have questions answered. We now know why, but now we have more-not only about this story, but about others as well. Readers of this story will never read a fairy tale the same way again: they will sit and wonder about what wasn't said.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Prices We Pay,
An intriguing re-mix of the Rumpelstiltskin story, the story of what might have happened had the Queen not guessed R.'s name correctly...and it also solves the mystery of why R. would have wanted that baby, anyway...and no, it's nothing to do with cannibalism or pederasty, thank you very much.
It's set in a fantasy-Europe milieu with somewhat-complex politics and competing power factions---the king isn't a bad guy, just weak when faced of the leader of the twelve Great Lords, who detests the beautiful peasant woman whom the king has married and elevated to royalty. The plot is filled with twists and relevations, a driving sense of urgency, a good deal of humor, and some eerily-casual magical encounters. The story is engagingly told in the first person by Tousle, a young boy who's been raised by the small, gnomish gentlemen he's always called Da---but don't assume that you know how this story is going to turn out. Even the happiest ending can have a bittersweet edge.
There've been several Rumpelstiltskin-based books in the last few years---Jo Napoli's Spinners is very good, very sad, and Vivian Vande Velde's short story collection, The Rumpelstiltskin Problem, is revisionist retelling at its funniest and finest. Straw in Gold more than holds its own among them. Great fun reading for 8-to-12 year olds, and for adults who still love fairy tales.
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting twist on a classic!,
This review is from: Straw into Gold (Kindle Edition)
Straw into Gold is an interesting twist on the classic story of Rumpelstiltskin. It has many unique twists that will keep young readers engaged. Unlike the original it has a happy ending with messages of the importance of love and family.
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting twist- fun journey.,
It's Rumpelstilskin with a twist. What if the queen can't find the quirky little man's name and her baby gets taken away? I love telling the story of Rumpelstilskin and I will love retelling this version as it is twisted and yet as believable as the original, as things start to fall into place. The beginning of the story is the same: you have a boastful miller who brags about his daughter, the promises of the daughter to the little man, the roomfuls of straw turning into gold, but things start to change when the Queen cannot find out the name of the little man in three days. On the third day, the Queen listed off two names but she could no longer speak, "so closed was her throat" so Rumpelstilskin places the child in a basket and takes him. The next chapter takes you to the day, Rumpelstilskin and Tousle are leaving to see the King's procession. Tousle is beside himself with excitement- traveling on horse and leaving his house. When they get there, they see some rebels that are getting ready for the gallows. One boy in this crowd catches Tousle's eye and when the King asks the kingdom for individuals to plead for these rebels, the crowd grows silent. No one wants to come forward. The Queen finally does which causes an uproar and soon Tousle finds himself beside the Queen pleading for these people which he does not know. The adventure is kicked into high gear and is surrounded by a riddle which Tousle must solve. With more twists that has ever came from this tale you start to unraveled the story as you begin the journey with Tousle.
The language in this tale is rich and deep. Their journey was quite eventful and an enjoyable ride from the traditional story.
4.0 out of 5 stars Twist on an old favorite,
I read this book for a Children's Literature class and I enjoyed the book. The characters are well developed and the plot was good. There are some interesting twists and turns in the book that caught and held my attenion.
5.0 out of 5 stars None,
This review is from: Straw into Gold (Kindle Edition)
I LOVED THIS BOOK!!!!!!! its got adventure, humor, suspense, and everything that makes a book so totally awesome! [ :
5.0 out of 5 stars Straw Into Gold is an excellent re-telling of a familiar tale with Schmidt's hallmark outlook ...,
Straw Into Gold is an excellent re-telling of a familiar tale with Schmidt's hallmark outlook of hope. Though it is a bit hard to follow at the beginning, keep reading for solid characters and dialogue, friendship and hope. What strikes our family when we read Schmidt is how he weaves in themes of love and design so beautifully in his stories.
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Straw into Gold by Gary D. Schmidt