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RUMP: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin will be available NEXT WEEK on April 9th, 2013,
but you can pre-order your copy now!
but you can pre-order your copy now!
Rumpelstiltskin has never been my favorite fairy tale, and yet two books during this year's Fairy Tale Fortnight have made me rethink the tale. The first was YA title RUMPLESTILTSKIN by Jenni James, which I reviewed the other day. Now, with the middle-grade offering of RUMP: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin, I once again find myself caring about the odd character from the original tale. Unlike in the version from Jenni James, where Rumplestiltskin is the cursed brother of a greedy king and in love with the girl himself, this Rumpelstiltskin is an ordinary boy. If, of course, having the ability to turn straw into gold is ordinary. He's figuring out the truth behind the magic coursing through his veins and is sucked into happenings beyond his control.
Rump has grown up never knowing his full name. His mother died moments after childbirth, whispering his name in his ear and only uttering its unfortunate beginning, "Rump," aloud. He gets made fun of all the time, too. After all, who wants to be named after a rear end? Names hold power, too, and without his full name, Rump is only half a person, smaller and weaker than the other boys his age. One day, his ailing grandmother throws away his mother's old spinning wheel, which he rescues from the trash. Messing around with it one night against her wishes, he discovers that he can turn straw into gold. Gold is huge in the mountains, and everyone goes out daily to mine for what little the pixies haven't gotten to in order to survive. Being weaker, Rump rarely finds anything, and he and his Gran never have enough to eat. With this gold, he knows he can change their fortunes for the better. Until the Miller cheats him out of a good deal. Until his Gran passes away. Until the greedy King comes to the Mountains to find out the truth behind his new influx of gold.
The just-as-greedy Miller, of course, claims that he has a gifted daughter, and Opal is quickly whisked away to turn straw into gold for the king--with Rump's house. Rump is once again forced into unfair bargains, where he must accept whatever is offered, never able to barter due to the strength of the magic upon him. She offers her gold necklace the first night, her mother's precious ring the second, and on the third, she promises him her unborn child. Rump doesn't even want a baby, but he's forced to accept. After the third night he flees in search of Yonder, where his mother came from. If he can find out the truth behind his name and his family history, maybe he can change the course of his own destiny. If he never hears that the Queen has had a baby, he never needs to return and take it. But he does hear. Compelled to return, the traditional tale of Rumpelstiltskin plays out in a way familiar to readers, yet being seen through Rump's eyes, has a distinctly "new" feel to it.
I really enjoyed seeing Rumpelstiltskin from Rump's perspective. He wants none of what he's forced to endure, and knowing the way the original tale goes, it's intriguing to see everything familiar from the traditional tale knotted up in a new way. We've misunderstood the tale all these centuries, having seen it from the eyes of the Queen, not those of the magical spinner himself. The Miller and his family are greedy, vile characters, as is the King. They care for nothing but gold, gold, gold, and will hurt anyone in order to get more of what they want. Liesl Shurtliff does a great job shining light on these characters even as their greediness remains by-the-book, making readers really sympathize with poor Rump. And Rump! Kids will really relate to him as he journeys to discover himself over the course of the book. His story is bound together in a creative way with Little Red Riding Hood through his relationship with his one and only friend Red. Red is a great female character, and not in the book nearly enough. It would fun to see a book or novella featuring her in the future! I especially loved the way she could somehow form paths in the woods where there were none previously, and would love to see the magic involved beyond that.
With the mix of boy humor that comes from a boy called "Butt," the addition of a gal pal, and the resonating message of self-discovery, RUMP: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin is perfect for the middle-grade readers it's aimed for as well as fun for older readers.