From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 3--A poor "goodwife," deserted by her husband and left with a baby to care for, hopes for a good litter of piglets. When her sow becomes deathly ill, she foolishly promises "anything your ladyship likes" to an old woman who says she can cure the animal. After the healing is complete, the stranger reveals that she is a fairy, and insists on taking young Robert unless his mother can guess her name before three days pass. At first distraught, the goodwife overhears the fairy's name while walking through the woods and sends her packing when she comes to claim the child. Stewig includes extensive notes on the history of this Scottish variant of "Rumpelstiltskin" and the ways in which he has adapted it. Unfortunately, the book is marred by the choice of an archaic-style font that may add atmosphere but would be difficult if not impossible for emergent readers to decipher, particularly as many of the words (dinna, ahind, etc.) will also be unfamiliar. McDaniels's watercolor illustrations, with their pale colors and humorous cartoon scenes, are at odds with the predominately darker aspects of the story. Carolyn White's Whuppity Stoorie
(Putnam, 1997; o.p.) is a more readable and visually appealing version of this tale.--Grace Oliff, Ann Blanche Smith School, Hillsdale, NJ
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Gr. 2-4. Rendered in a Scottish lilt that's enjoyable to read out loud (once one has mastered the old-style font), this Rumplestiltskin-like picture book for older readers is set in the town of Kittlerumpit. A young widow asks an old woman for help with the ailing sow that's her only means of support. She promises "anything your ladyship likes," not suspecting she's dealing with a fairy who covets her sweet son. The mother is told to guess the fairy' s name or lose her son forever. To ease her mind, the mother takes a walk and happens to overhear the fairy crowing over her certain victory. Enjoying her secret knowledge, the young widow later guesses a few names, which are sure to amuse young listeners, and then declares she's "not fit to tie the shoestring o' the high and mighty princess Whuppity Stoorie!" Whuppity runs away, "like an owl chasing with the witches." McDaniels' flowing, earth-toned illustrations nicely complement the playful turns of the language, which includes Scottish words and phrases that are usually accessible even if children aren't familiar with them. Stewig discusses his use and alterations of earlier versions of the Whuppity Stoorie tale in an author's note. Abby NolanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved