THE RUMPELSTILTSKIN PROBLEM

Of making many books there is no end, and of making many fairy tales with alternate settings, characters, or perspectives there clearly is no end in sight. Vande Velde (Magic Can Be Murder, p. 1366, etc.) extends this popular subgenre into the upper-elementary through junior-high level, with her collection of six short stories on a Rumpelstiltskin theme. She begins in an introduction by examining the logical fallacies inherent in the traditional versions of “Rumpelstiltskin,” detailed in a slightly sarcastic style that will appeal to junior-high students. Each of her short stories then addresses one of these problems in various clever ways. The first three stories deal with the motivation of the Rumpelstiltskin character. In the first, Rumpelstiltskin is a mean troll who wants to eat a baby for lunch; in the second, he is a helpful, gentle elf who eventually rescues the miller’s daughter and her baby from an uncaring king; and in the third, Rumplestiltskin is a domovoi, a furry Russian creature who lives under the floorboards of the castle, simply trying to keep all the humans happy. The following three stories have human characters taking on the role of Rumpelstiltskin within the story structure. The father solves the gold-spinning problem himself in one story, and the exemplary king rids himself of a greedy, conniving miller’s daughter in another. In Ms. Rumpelstiltskin, the main character is a neighbor of the miller and his daughter, an unpleasant witch-like woman who wants a daughter of her own to raise (in a locked tower, as it turns out). Although the stories are rather a bit much to read all at once, separately they are both clever innovations on the traditional tale and useful instructionally in analyzing motivation and character. Teachers who use fairy tales in the classroom will find this an effective and amusing collection, with just the right amount of snappy sarcasm to snag the junior-high set. Young readers who like Robin McKinley’s fairy-tale retellings will also enjoy this collection. (Fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-618-05523-1

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2000

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Despite the stale fat-to-curvy pattern, compelling world building with a Southern European, pseudo-Christian feel,...

THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS

From the Girl of Fire and Thorns series , Vol. 1

Adventure drags our heroine all over the map of fantasyland while giving her the opportunity to use her smarts.

Elisa—Princess Lucero-Elisa de Riqueza of Orovalle—has been chosen for Service since the day she was born, when a beam of holy light put a Godstone in her navel. She's a devout reader of holy books and is well-versed in the military strategy text Belleza Guerra, but she has been kept in ignorance of world affairs. With no warning, this fat, self-loathing princess is married off to a distant king and is embroiled in political and spiritual intrigue. War is coming, and perhaps only Elisa's Godstone—and knowledge from the Belleza Guerra—can save them. Elisa uses her untried strategic knowledge to always-good effect. With a character so smart that she doesn't have much to learn, body size is stereotypically substituted for character development. Elisa’s "mountainous" body shrivels away when she spends a month on forced march eating rat, and thus she is a better person. Still, it's wonderfully refreshing to see a heroine using her brain to win a war rather than strapping on a sword and charging into battle.

Despite the stale fat-to-curvy pattern, compelling world building with a Southern European, pseudo-Christian feel, reminiscent of Naomi Kritzer's Fires of the Faithful (2002), keeps this entry fresh. (Fantasy. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-202648-4

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2011

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This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes

LEGEND

From the Legend series , Vol. 1

A gripping thriller in dystopic future Los Angeles.

Fifteen-year-olds June and Day live completely different lives in the glorious Republic. June is rich and brilliant, the only candidate ever to get a perfect score in the Trials, and is destined for a glowing career in the military. She looks forward to the day when she can join up and fight the Republic’s treacherous enemies east of the Dakotas. Day, on the other hand, is an anonymous street rat, a slum child who failed his own Trial. He's also the Republic's most wanted criminal, prone to stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. When tragedies strike both their families, the two brilliant teens are thrown into direct opposition. In alternating first-person narratives, Day and June experience coming-of-age adventures in the midst of spying, theft and daredevil combat. Their voices are distinct and richly drawn, from Day’s self-deprecating affection for others to June's Holmesian attention to detail. All the flavor of a post-apocalyptic setting—plagues, class warfare, maniacal soldiers—escalates to greater complexity while leaving space for further worldbuilding in the sequel.

This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes . (Science fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25675-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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