Saturday, June 21, 2014

Rump: the True Story of Rumplestiltskin by Lisa Shurtliff

This is an expanded retelling of the old Rumplestiltskin story, in which the author takes an unlikable character and turns him into an unlikely but likeable hero.

Rump, who lives with his beloved grandmother, in a poor village on the side of a mountain. Their subsistence depends on the meager amounts of gold that they are able to mine for the king which they trade for rations. Rump endures endless teasing and bullying because of his name, which he is convinced is incomplete. His mother died before managing to get his whole name out.

The greedy miller of the original story runs the village, collecting the gold and distributing the rations as he sees fit. Most of Rump's bullying is at the hands of the miller's sons, who are the ones that discover Rump's magical ability to spin straw into gold and report it to the miller. Unfortunately for Rump, under the rules of magic, he is compelled to trade the gold for whatever is offered and his ability to produce more gold than he could mine does nothing to improve what he receives from the unscrupulous miller.

When the king comes to the village to find out the source of the increased gold production, the miller boasts that it was his daughter, who is beautiful but definitely not the sharpest tool in the drawer, who can spin straw into gold. The king takes her to the castle to spin gold or die, with the eventual promise of marriage if she succeeds for three nights.

Rump sets out a quest to find his true full name, which he believes will lead to his true destiny. While on his quest, he hears of the miller's daughter plight and feels responsible. In this version, it is the maiden's own lack of acuity that leads to her promise of her firstborn child, which under the rules of magic Rump must accept.

This is an enjoyable fantasy book, with good characterizations, an interesting plot and a lot of humor, starting with the title character's name.  It is a good choice for anyone assigned a fantasy book report, especially those who don't like fantasy books. The elements of fantasy are easy to understand and don't require acquiring a new vocabulary.                  2013


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