April 19, 2013

What’s in a name? Plenty of woe

By Liesl Shurtliff
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Admit it: Everyone thinks their name or nickname is embarrassing at some point in their life. Yes, even you! (For four years, my nickname was Kevy-Wevy, so I know of which I speak.) However, even the worst name pales in comparison to the hero of our story. In Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin, written by first-time author Liesl Shurtliff, Rump’s mother dies before she is able to tell him his entire name—all she can get out is “Rump.” And in a village where names have power and meaning, being stuck with this name does not give Rump much hope for the rest of his life.

In Rump’s village (aptly name The Village, located on The Mountain), gold is everything. Every day, almost all of the residents of The Village head toward the mines to dig, mine, pan and discover as much gold as they can. In return for their gold, they receive their rations from The Miller, who then gives the gold to King Bartholomew Archibald Reginald Fife (or King Barf, as Rump likes to call him). Rump is not very good at finding gold, so he and his grandmother seldom have enough to eat. However, Rump thinks his luck has changed when he discovers a spinning wheel that allows him to spin straw into gold. And his luck doest change, but not in the way he had hoped.

Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin is the latest addition to the growing trend of fairy tale retelling. What sets this story apart is its creativity and characters. Never relying on convention, Shurtliff takes the traditional fairy tale and turns it on its head, interspersing humor with tenderness, action with insight. Rump shows the other side of Rumpelstiltskin, one of the most vilified characters in fairy tales, and reminds readers that in a good story, very little is as it seems.


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By Liesl Shurtliff
Knopf Books for Young Readers
ISBN 9780307977939

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