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.
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 BradburnCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved