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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

"Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin" by Liesl Shurtliff (Reviewed by Cindy Hannikman)

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OVERVIEW: In a magic kingdom where your name is your destiny, 12-year-old Rump is the butt of everyone's joke. But when he finds an old spinning wheel, his luck seems to change. Rump discovers he has a gift for spinning straw into gold. His best friend, Red Riding Hood, warns him that magic is dangerous, and she’s right. With each thread he spins, he weaves himself deeper into a curse.

To break the spell, Rump must go on a perilous quest, fighting off pixies, trolls, poison apples, and a wickedly foolish queen. The odds are against him, but with courage and friendship—and a cheeky sense of humor—he just might triumph in the end.

FORMAT: Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin is a children/middle grade novel and stands at 272 pages. It is a retelling of the beloved tale of Rumpelstiltskin. It is a coming of age story with magic, adventure, and a handful of mystical creatures. The entire tale is a standalone story.

Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin was published April 9, 2013 by Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers.

ANALYSIS: The fairy tales we grew up with as children never really had detailed characters. The characters, at best, were one-dimensional and a bit predictable. There were the ones that were inherently good, the ones that were super-evil, and those that were bad but didn't really want to be and would someday change. But did you ever wonder what the story was behind those characters?

Liesl Shurtliff's tale Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin takes us on that journey. A behind the scenes look at the enigmatic, mysterious fairy tale creature who could spin straw into gold and who seemed a tad bit obsessed with people guessing his name.

Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin tells the story of a 12-year old Rump. Rump's mother passed away during childbirth, but right before she died she left him with a parting gift – his name. Unfortunately, the only part of the name people understood was 'Rump'. Even though everyone believed that was his name, Rump knew in his heart that there was more to his name and made it his quest to someday find his real name.

That quest to find his real name begins when Rump discovers an old spinning wheel in his backyard, which once belonged to his mother. After dragging it into the home he shares with his grandma, he discovers something amazing. The spinning wheel is magical and can spin straw into gold, but all magic comes at a price.

Ignoring the warning of his good friend, Red (yes the Little Red Riding Hood), Rump continues to use the magical spinning wheel. This lands him into trouble that is all but impossible to fix.

Liesl Shurtliff does an amazing job making readers root for a character that has a literary stigma of being 'not so nice'. I'm pretty certain most people wouldn't say they cared for Rumpelstiltskin based off of his one-sided fairy tale, but this retelling really made you stop, think, and develop an emotional attachment to Rump. I found myself feeling bad for him and by the end of the story; I was rooting for him to come out as a winner.

Considering this is a fairly short middle grade story, I found the world building and character development amazing. There are a few nods to other fairy tales, but the entire focus wasn't to make a cutesy spinoff of a fairy tale, but really focus on telling Rump's story. Many times authors go overboard on the 'cute factor', but Shurtliff knows just how to toe the line.

Overall, I absolutely loved Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin. I could hardly put it down. Considering it was Shurtliff's debut novel, I am impressed. There is a whole lot of talent here and I look forward to seeing where she takes other fairy tales as there are plans to tell the tales of Red and Jack (from Jack and the Beanstalk).

This is a true 'must read' for anyone who loves fairy tales or anyone looking for a good fast read. Shurtliff won't disappoint.


Kim Aippersbach said...

Great review! I always love fairytale retellings from the pov of a misunderstood villain. I would have said Rumplestiltskin would be a hard villain to turn into a hero, but it sounds like Shurtliff has done it!

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