Saturday, August 27, 2022

Review of "The Rumpelstiltskin Problem," by Vivian Vande Velde

 Review of

The Rumpelstiltskin Problem, by Vivian Vande Velde ISBN 0439305292

Four out of five stars

Based on the absurd premise of the fairy tale

 Like nearly all fairy tales, Rumpelstiltskin is based on one or more absurd premises and appears in some form in more than one culture. It is based on the classic “supernatural helper” plot device, where there are dire consequences if the human fails at a specific task. It is also based on the alchemical goal of a common substance (straw), being turned into gold.

 In this case, the absurdities in the story are identified and six different short versions of the story are presented. While they do have a more modern flavor, they vary widely in their structure. In some, there is still the basic turning straw into gold, but in others it doesn’t really happen. In my favorite, the miller’s daughter is Carleen and very much a gold digger, looking for the richest and most powerful man to make her groom. In many ways it is the most realistic of the six versions.

 A new approach to the retelling of a classic fairy tale, this book is fun to read and contains a few genuine grins as well as some serious groans.

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