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Rapunzel Week (1): Rapunzel

Posted on Jan 27, 2011

Sarah Gibb
(Harpercollins Children’s Books)

This very book is what inspired me to do a Rapunzel week, alongside The Fairytale Hairdresser, which I will review later in the week. I bought this for my daughter as part as her Christmas Eve book bundle, having discovered Sarah Gibb via The Princess Who Had No Kingdom (to be reviewed later on) and I was awestruck but its exquisiteness. It saddened me to think that anybody looking for a Rapunzel book could overlook this gem. This book is a thing of beauty; in fact, it is possibly of one the most beautiful books I have seen in a long, long time. Sarah Gibb’s illustrations are breathtakingly gorgeous, using a mix of superbly coloured intricate illustrations and scenes created entirely in silhouettes. This is very effective at bringing together both the romantic, happy side of the tale and its darker, more threatening side.

It is shamelessly girly with flowers, beautiful shades of pink and purple, and the most amazing, detailed costumes. But it is never tacky-girly; instead it oozes elegance and sophistication.

The text is fairly faithful to the original Brothers Grimm story (which, if I recall correctly, has several versions too). It is toned down slightly for a younger audience however: the prince is “badly hurt” by the thorns so he can no long see rather than bluntly blinded by them and Rapunzel does not give birth to twins while lost in the forest, eradicating the shenanigans that obviously take place at the top of the tower in the original story! Also, I think in the original Grimm story Rapunzel is not reunited with her parents, whereas here they are and we also witness the pair of lovebirds get married. But these are just little details; and we all know traditional fairy-tales are hardly child-friendly and need a little bit of updating to become suitable. It is quite long, so it is probably best suited as a read-aloud rather than independent reading until the young reader has gathered quite a lot of reading stamina.

If you are looking for a gift edition of the traditional fairy-tale or just a present for a special little girl in your life, look no further. You will not be disappointed.



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    ooh lovely! Silhouettes can be so effective and for some reason I think they work so well with fairy stories – maybe because of Pienkowski and Lotte Reiniger. So glad to have discovered this book.

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    Hi Zoe, silhouettes do work very well with fairy-tales, you are right. I think it is because there is just such a dark undertone to them. I must unearth the Pienkowski one, I know I have it somewhere!

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    How funny to return to this post almost a year later! I shall add this to my wish list straight away.

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    I know! I never did unearth the Pienkowski one, but it came to my mind as soon as I read your post this morning. I will go and find it now!

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