Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin

 
Fractured fairy tale will charm and delight young readers.

What parents need to know

Educational value

Kids will learn a few basics about fiber arts such as spinning and weaving. If they're familiar with the classic "Rumpelstiltskin" fairy tale, they can compare that with this revamped version.

Positive messages

Only you can fix the problems you create. Things outside your control, like your name, can shape your destiny, but channeling your inner strength in positive ways gives you the power you need to make anything you want of it.

Positive role models

Rump changes from a kid who wants magic to make life easier for him into a 12-year-old young man who wants to responsibly control his abilities. He makes some bad choices along the way because he feels powerless against his magical abilities, and these choices end up endangering those around him. But he struggles to set things right and ultimately succeeds. His friend Red has more common sense than Rump does and literally tries to slap it into him. She offers good advice and helps him when she can, sometimes against her own better judgment. Adult men don't fare very well: The miller is wicked and greedy and the king is obsessed with gold. Adult women are positive role models, including Rump's loving, caring grandmother, the three aunts who take him in, and the castle cook.

Violence & scariness

Red frequently hits Rump in attempts to correct his speech and behavior. Rump is bullied by two boys who constantly kick, punch, and throw things at him. Pixies are irritating creatures with bites worse than bee stings that violently attack Rump several times. Trolls discuss eating the captured Rump, and their roughhouse play among themselves includes hitting. A castle maid hits Rump several times with a poker. Blood is mentioned twice: in recounting the story (without detail) of when Red punched someone, causing a nosebleed; and in mentioning (without detail) that Rump bloodies his fingers when he first tries to use the spinning wheel. Also, Rump's grandmother dies in bed early in the story.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Rump flips the famous "Rumpelstiltskin" fairy tale.  The familiar good guys, like the miller, are downright bad, or behave badly out of desperation, like the miller's daughter-turned-queen. Rumpelstiltskin, as the 12-year-old hero Rump instead of an old man, becomes a truly sympathetic character. The occasional violence is mostly playful hitting, but blood is mentioned twice. Scary witches are mentioned, while the witches we meet are mysterious but good. Scary trolls also make an appearance but turn out to be harmless, helpful creatures who keep themselves safe from humans by hiding behind their horrible reputations. Rump's grandmother dies in bed early in the story.

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What's the story?

Twelve-year-old Rump learns he has the magic ability to spin straw into gold. But the magic has its own harsh set of rules that can't be broken and create terrible consequences for Rump and those around him -- and attracts the attention of the greedy town miller and the gold-obsessed king. Rump sets out from home to help the miller's daughter, whom everyone believes is the one doing the spinning. The trouble culminates in Rump's being locked into a bargain for something he doesn't even want: the queen's firstborn child. In order to escape this destiny, Rump flees the castle to find the truth about his past. Along the way he meets trolls and witches who help him discover who he really is, how he can solve the problems he created, and how he can control his abilities and his future.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Liesl Shurtliff's debut novel, Rump, has plenty of charm, whimsy, and humor to entertain and delight young readers. Children familiar with the "Rumpelstiltskin" fairy tale will appreciate some of the details more than those who aren't, but you don;t have to know the old story to enjoy this one. It stands well on its own, presenting an unusual but relatable hero in a fun fantasy world. The story is well paced, and although the writing doesn't dazzle, it deftly holds the reader's interest and keeps us rooting for the fun and funny new hero.

Families can talk about...

  • Familes can talk about fairy tales. Why do you think they've been told for so long? Are they still fun to read or listen to in today's world?

  • Did you know the story of "Rumpelstiltskin" before you read this? If you did, what do you think of Rump now? If you didn't, do you think you might like to?

  • Have you ever been bullied, or seen someone bullied, like Frederick and Bruno bully Rump? Did you do anything about it? Do you think Rump handles it well? What about Red?

Book details

Author:Liesl Shurtliff
Genre:Fantasy
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Adventures, Book characters, Fairy tales, Misfits and underdogs
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Alfred A. Knopf
Publication date:April 9, 2013
Number of pages:272
Publisher's recommended age(s):8 - 12
Available on:Nook, Hardback, iBooks, Kindle

This review of Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin was written by

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  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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