Want personalized picks that fit your family?
Set preferences to see our top age-appropriate picks for your kids.
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
A pregnant woman craves the leafy rapunzel growing in a sorceress's garden. When her husband sneaks into the garden to steal some, the sorceress catches him, and she makes him promise to give his first-born child to her.
The sorceress raises infant Rapunzel, and, when the girl turns twelve, imprisons her in a tower. The only way to enter or exit the tower is to climb Rapunzel's long hair, and one day a prince discovers the secret. He climbs, they meet, they marry.
When the sorceress learns that Rapunzel is pregnant, she chops off Rapunzel's hair in a rage and banishes her to the wilderness. The next time the prince climbs the tower to his bride, he finds only the sorceress, who tells him he'll never see his wife again.
Grief-stricken, he crashes to the ground and is blinded by thorns. A year later, chance reunites him with Rapunzel. Her tears of joy restore his vision. At last they can live happily ever after.
Is it any good?
This classic tale retold brims with passion and grace, and the emotional intensity of Paul O. Zelinsky's work is bewitching. Spectacular oil paintings, rich with color and light, dive below surface appearances to convey deep feelings and relationships. The vividness of the illustrations is matched by a text that is simple yet elegant, dotted with words such as wretched and luxuriant.
Some children will find the language and the formal, Renaissance-style paintings a challenge, but for those who are able to take in this story, there's a lot (in addition to history and language skills) to be gained. Through all of the drama, children are offered an important lesson about love. Rage, grief, and jealousy flash through the story, but in the end, it is love that prevails. Zelinsky extensively researched the origin of this story and provides notes on the sources.