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Straw Into Gold Hardcover – April 23, 2001

4.2 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 5-8-What would have happened if the queen had failed to guess Rumpelstiltskin's name and the odd little man had taken her child? Why did he want the young prince? Was his motivation selfish, or could he have been protecting the child from life-threatening danger? Imaginative answers to these questions skillfully blossom into a fantasy-flavored quest that begins when young Tousle leaves the secluded forest cottage he shares with his diminutive, magical, adoptive father Da, a spinner, and travels for the very first time to the city to view the king's procession. In Wolverham,Tousle becomes separated from Da and is surprised to find himself joining the queen in a plea for mercy for rebels facing execution. The king, acting against the wishes of his Twelve Great Lords, sets Tousle a riddle-"What fills a hand fuller than a skein of gold?"-and promises that the right answer will save the rebels' lives. Accompanied by a blind boy, Innes, Tousle seeks the riddle's solution on an adventure-filled journey to the Saint Eynsham Abbey, where the boys feel certain that the queen, who spends most of her time there in exile, will aid them. The youngsters find the solution to more than just the riddle as they learn the truth about the mysteries surrounding their own births, Rumpelstiltskin's identity, and the reason the child was taken from his parents. A good book to recommend to fans of Lloyd Alexander, Diana Wynne Jones, and J. R. R. Tolkien.

Ginny Gustin, Sonoma County Library System, Santa Rosa, CA

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Gr. 5-9. In this touching, dark story Schmidt extends the tale of Rumpelstiltskin to explore what might have happened if the queen had not guessed Rumpelstiltskin's name correctly. On his first trip to Wolverham with his Da, Tousle is caught up in the spectacle of prisoners being driven into the city for execution. When the king asks, "Is there one among you who would hinder the death of these rebels?" only Tousle and the queen speak out, thus thwarting the King's goal. The furious king will spare the prisoners' lives only if the boy and a young, blind rebel, Innes, can solve a riddle: "What fills a hand fuller than a skein of gold?" So begins a suspenseful quest that adds surprising twists and turns to the traditional fairy tale. Rumpelstiltskin remains elusive, but Tousle and Innes are complex, intriguing characters. The ending, satisfying if a bit too tidy, is actually a fitting fairy tale conclusion. Pair this with Vivian Vande Velde's Rumpelstiltskin Problem and Donna Jo Napoli's stories, which also add new charms to old favorites. Frances Bradburn
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Clarion Books (April 23, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618056017
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618056019
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.2 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,083,041 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 2, 2002
Format: Hardcover
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.
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Format: Hardcover
*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.
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Format: Hardcover
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.
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Format: Paperback
Straw Into Gold is a brilliant twist on the famous Rumpelstiltskin tale. It is written by Gary D. Schmidt, who is on my top 10 favorite authors list. Combine famous fairy tales and favorite authors…you have a treasure in your hands!

I will warn readers (without spoilers) that Rumpelstiltskin does not appear very much and the story does not hold a lot of magic or action. It is more of a heartfelt fairy tale as narrator Tousle and Innes go on a quest to answer the king’s riddle lest they be killed. Tousle has led a sheltered life in his cottage, so when he is thrust into the quest he learns about friendship, family, evilness/greed, love, and his place in the world. The personal journey Tousle goes through makes this not only a fairy tale but also a coming-of-age story. Tousle and Innes’s friendship develops nicely and the way Schmidt writes similar to the Medieval times is lovely. I highly recommend to Schmidt fans and those interested in fairy tale retellings.
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