cover image The Girl Who Spun Gold

The Girl Who Spun Gold

Virginia Hamilton. Blue Sky Press (AZ), $17.95 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-590-47378-1

In this evocative picture book, Hamilton (Her Stories; Bluish) spins a new tale from old, as she adapts a West Indian version of ""Rumpelstiltskin."" The warm Caribbean climes are home to Quashiba, a young spinner woman who becomes wife to the ruler of the land, Big King, having been chosen for her supposed ability to spin gold. When Big King expects her to actually produce rooms full of golden cloth, help arrives in the form of Lit'mahn, a troll-like creature with a wooden leg and a long tail. Lit'mahn extends the familiar ""guess my name"" challenge and, in keeping with other versions of the story, winds up on the losing end. Readers will enjoy the familiar feel and the gentle cadence of the story here, made all the more rhythmic by the West Indian dialect Hamilton employs (""Don't cha know!""; ""For true!""). In opulent illustrations, the Dillons (To Every Thing There Is a Season) take it to the gilt, incorporating copious amounts of gold paint in their creamy acrylic compositions. They frame each right-hand, full-page scene with a luxurious gold-leaf border that extends partway onto the previous page. Gloriously colored garments from an imperial era gone by plus the truly hideous appearance of the wild-eyed, sharp-toothed Lit'mahn add drama and depth to the proceedings. Ages 4-up. (Sept.)