Book review by
Esther Ehrlich, Common Sense Media
Rapunzel Book Poster Image
Retelling of classic brims with passion and grace.

Parents say

age 4+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 3 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Violence & Scariness

The sorceress screams at Rapunzel, grabs her hair, and cuts it off. The prince falls from the tower, blinding himself.


What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the heroine is locked away from the world and the prince is blinded in a fall. The story is riveting, the language is powerful, and the oil paintings are beautiful.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written byDave W. June 24, 2018

Deep Archetypal Meanings

A prophetic parable. Teaches the difference in archetypes of the great mother, contracting the thieving, hoarding witch with the giving, nurturing mother. Teach... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written bytommyd123 March 31, 2021

I cant read, what does this say

All i can read is that she is pregnant many times, over and over again. Don't ask how i am writing this if i am illiterate
Teen, 16 years old Written byhussainbilal November 2, 2016

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.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the relationships in this story. Does the sorceress love Rapunzel? Why does she want to keep the girl locked away?

Book details

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