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The Rumpelstiltskin Problem Hardcover – Bargain Price, August 28, 2000
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Why did the miller tell the king his daughter could spin straw into gold in the first place? The story of Rumpelstiltskin is full of holes, says young adult fantasy writer Vivian Vande Velde in the author's note to this delightful group of tales. For instance, why was the dwarf was willing to accept the girl's ring as a bribe when he already knew how to spin unlimited quantities of gold? And why did he want a baby at all? Not to mention the very peculiar ending in which he stamps on the floor, catches his foot in a crack, and in a fit of rage tears himself in two. Excuse me? says Vande Velde.
The skeptical author sets out to remedy these flaws in six different imaginative retellings full of sassy humor that teens will relish. Sticking closely to the spirit and setting of the original, she changes only one or two building blocks in the plot structure and comes up with some surprising results. In one story, the miller's daughter is an obnoxious groupie pursuing the polite and gentle king; in another, Rumpelstiltskin is female; and in a third, the dwarf appears as a troll with a yen to eat human baby who sets up the whole scenario as an attempt to get his hands on a toothsome infant. ("Tastes just like chicken," scoffs his brother-in-law.)
Teen readers will appreciate the wit and freshness of these smart-mouth renditions of a traditional story. (Ages 10 to 14) --Patty Campbell --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
From Publishers Weekly
The eponymous problem, as Vande Velde (There's a Dead Person Following My Sister Around) explains in an author's note, is that the original fairy tale "makes no sense." Hence, she retells the classic story six times, creatively changing elements with each variant. What results is a charming and clever collection that explains such conundrums as: Why, if the daughter can spin straw into gold, is the miller so poor? What would an elf want with a baby? Vande Velde keeps the basic structure the same: always a miller's daughter must spin straw into gold for the king, always the claim is made that Rumpelstiltskin does it for herDor at least teaches herDin exchange for her firstbornDand ultimately someone must guess the creature's strange name to break that contract. In one scenario, "The Domovoi," Rumpelstiltskin is a magical, teddy bear-like creature living under the castle basement; in "Ms. Rumpelstiltskin," the titular character takes the form of an ugly and lonely witch. The miller's daughter may fall in love with the king, or with Rumpelstiltskin, and once she runs off without falling in love at all. In the closing, particularly funny version, the miller's manipulative daughter named Carleen tries to bully kindly King Gregory into marrying her. Though the opening lines feel forced (one begins, "Once upon a time, before pizzerias or Taco Bells"), Vande Velde's takes on this fairy tale are always humorous and often heartwarming. Ages 10-14. (Oct.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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