Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Rumpelstiltskin Problem (MG)

The Rumpelstiltskin Problem. Vivian Vande Velde. 2000. Houghton Mifflin. 116 pages.

The Rumpelstiltskin Problem is a collection of short stories. Each short story puts a twist on the fairy tale Rumpelstiltskin. In the author's note, Vivian Vande Velde picks apart all the problems with the original story, alerts readers of all the holes in logic, argues that the story is obviously incomplete! She plays around with this in her stories, proving that there are many sides to a story, many ways to interpret a story. Some are clever. Some are amusing. All are well-crafted, in my opinion.

If I had to choose just one as a favorite, it would be Straw into Gold.

The six short stories are:

A Fairy Tale in Bad Taste
Once upon a time, before pizzerias or Taco Bells, there was a troll named Rumpelstiltskin who began to wonder what a human baby would taste like.
Straw Into Gold
Once upon a time, in the days before Social Security or insurance companies, there lived a miller and his daughter, Della, who were fairly well-off and reasonably happy until the day their mill burned down.
The Domovoi
Once upon a time, before home security systems and trained guard dogs, if you lived in Russia the way to keep your home safe and happy was to have a domovoi living beneath your basement. 
Papa Rumpelstiltskin
Once upon a time, before bread was plastic-wrapped and sold in supermarkets, there lived a miller named Otto and his daughter, Christina.
Ms. Rumpelstiltskin
Once upon a time, before eyelash curlers and lip liner, there lived a very plain girl by the name of Rumpelstiltskin.
As Good As Gold
Once upon a time, before movie stars or rock singers or professional athletes, the people everybody most wanted to meet were kings and queens.

© 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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