Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Rump: The True Story of Rumplestiltskin

I love finding fractured fairy tales and sharing them with others. I found that in a new series from Liesl Shurtliff and the first book is Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin.

This is a series of chapter books that creates a universe of fairy tales characters that interact with one another based on versions of each character's tale. I've finished the first two of the series and glanced at the third enough to know the characters do cross over and the story does stay intact from one to the next. However, for those of you interested in using just one with a specific unit it is possible to read them as stand alone novels. You just lose a little bit of the character and plot background as the second and third novels do bring in knowledge from the previous novels.

However, this is the first chapter book in the series and I think she does a great job at giving an alternate story for Rumpelstiltskin. In the original tale, Rumpelstiltskin is generally written as an old trickster. In this novel we start with Rump's birth and thus the problem with his names. Just like in the original tale, names have power. However, in this version Rump's mother dies before pronouncing his complete name leaving him with not only an embarrassing name, but also an issue with his identity. He lacks a certain amount of personal and eventually magic power without his complete name.

The story that is most familiar occurs when Rumple is an older character. This book is written when Rump is a child. The author introduces us to Rump and the setting that will be at the heart of the series. We also quickly meet Red of Red Riding Hood fame. She later gets her own book as the series continues to a third book. Adding and mixing characters from different fairy tale stories can be done well or just clutter the story. In this case the author has created an interesting relationship between Red and Rump. Her addition to the story isn't placed just to check off a box that we've mixed fairy tale stories, she and Rump have a real purpose and a believable history established. The author does a good job creating round characters out of both Rump and Red. Ironically where Rumple is often a villain of the story, here he becomes a rounded hero. Sadly, however, while reforming Rumple and making him a fuller, more developed character, my biggest disappointment is the villains are still flat and underwritten. That is one thing that would make this series stronger.

By changing Rump into a younger character, much of the story is more easily justified. Rump didn't understand the magic that he was working with and only with time understands the consequences and rules that govern magic. The gold he spins does not come without a price as he discovers from learning the history of his mother from whom his talent was passed to him.

I was curious as to how the author was going to handle the situation with the Queen's child and it was an interesting and creative solution to how the queen gets her child back and how Rump finally discovers not only his name, but the power of his magic and his own life.

As always I recommend teachers and parents review anything before turning it over to their children.

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