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Straw Into Gold [Hardcover]

Gary D. Schmidt
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 23 2001
What fills a hand fuller than a skein of gold? By order of the king, two boys, Tousle and Innes, must find the answer to this puzzling riddle within seven days or be killed. A former nursemaid to the queen’s child tells the boys that the banished queen may have the answer they seek. Danger presents itself at every turn, for the boys are pursued by the Great Barons, who are secretly plotting against the king. Another pursuer, the greedy King’s Grip, reveals a strange story of a little man who once spun straw into gold of incredible beauty for the queen but then disappeared with her firstborn son. Tousle realizes that the man he calls Da is the strange little man and, even more amazing, that he himself may be the lost prince. Or could it be Innes, who although cruelly blinded can hear the music of the dawn?
This skillful blend of fantasy and adventure reveals what might have happened before the queen makes her third and last guess and the story of Rumpelstiltskin—as we know it—ends.

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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.

From Booklist

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 Bradburn
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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4.0 out of 5 stars Rumpelstiltskin Revisited March 31 2003
Format:Hardcover
In this 2001 retelling of the fairytale Rumpelstiltskin by Gary Schmidt, two orphan boys named Tousle and Innes must find the answer to the king's riddle - What fills a hand fuller than a skein of gold? - within seven days or they and a group of "rebel" prisoners face execution.
The book begins with the traditional story of the miller's claim that his daughter can spin straw into gold, her weeping which brings the little man who does just that, and the little man carrying off her first-born son as payment. In this version, however, he does this before the queen, so overcome with grief that she cannot speak, can make her final guess concerning his name.
The narrative then moves ahead twelve years to Tousle and Innes and the riddle given to them by the king and his council of Great Lords. The boys decide to visit the queen, whom the king keeps sequestered in a convent. They soon find, however, that there are a number of people concerned with their safety - or the lack there of, as the case may be - and must find ways of avoiding all kinds of dangers, mostly soldiers with large, scary weapons but also those who easily succumb to the temptation of money in return for information on the whereabouts of two young boys.
As Tousle and Innes near the convent, rumors of a young prince who was carried off as a baby by a little man reach them. The reader, who has perhaps begun to wonder how this story-thread ties into the original tale of Rumpelstiltskin, begins to surmise that one of the boys is possibly the prince himself.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Prices We Pay June 19 2002
Format:Hardcover
An intriguing re-mix of the Rumpelstiltskin story, the story of what might have happened had the Queen not guessed R.'s name correctly...and it also solves the mystery of why R. would have wanted that baby, anyway...and no, it's nothing to do with cannibalism or pederasty, thank you very much.
It's set in a fantasy-Europe milieu with somewhat-complex politics and competing power factions---the king isn't a bad guy, just weak when faced of the leader of the twelve Great Lords, who detests the beautiful peasant woman whom the king has married and elevated to royalty. The plot is filled with twists and relevations, a driving sense of urgency, a good deal of humor, and some eerily-casual magical encounters. The story is engagingly told in the first person by Tousle, a young boy who's been raised by the small, gnomish gentlemen he's always called Da---but don't assume that you know how this story is going to turn out. Even the happiest ending can have a bittersweet edge.
There've been several Rumpelstiltskin-based books in the last few years---Jo Napoli's Spinners is very good, very sad, and Vivian Vande Velde's short story collection, The Rumpelstiltskin Problem, is revisionist retelling at its funniest and finest. Straw in Gold more than holds its own among them. Great fun reading for 8-to-12 year olds, and for adults who still love fairy tales.
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5.0 out of 5 stars 'What fills a hand fuller than a skein of gold?' June 14 2002
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
*I checked this book out of a library, thinking it was good to read for this summer. And it was.
It starts out retelling the story of the miller's daughter, except this time Rumpelstiltskin takes the child. Then the story zooms to about eleven years later to start the story of Tousle, who lives with his Da in cottage in the woods.
In the beginning, Tousle is traveling to see the King's procession, but later finds that it's purpose is to hang those who rebelled against Lord Beryn(the bad guy). Tousle selflessly gives himself up to plea for the rebels lives. The King then takes Tousle aside and gives him the riddle that will save both the rebels lives and his own, 'What fills a hand fuller than a skein of gold?' Thus the adventure begins.

Along with Innes, a blind Rebel, Tousle has seven days to find the answer to the riddle. But when they answer one, they'll answer another...
This is a very marvelous book. It puts the reader on the edge of their seat and is funny enough to lighten it's dark demeanor. With it's twist at the end, the reader will learn more than the answer to the King's riddle.
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