cover image Rumpelstiltskin's Daughter

Rumpelstiltskin's Daughter

Diane Stanley. HarperCollins, $17.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-688-14327-5

Stanley blazes a new path for herself in this effervescent revisionist fairy tale, and the results are as stunning as her best picture-book biographies (Leonardo da Vinci; Bard of Avon). Here she brings her meticulous illustrator's eye for detail to bear upon a fantasy kingdom that exists somewhere between Versailles and high farce, projecting an ornately imagined setting for a tale that scores a few serious points as it pokes fun at a nursery room favorite. This miller's daughter can't imagine why anyone would want to marry the money-loving king, and she feels grateful for the short little man who has saved her life by spinning straw into gold. When he bargains for her firstborn child, she is only to glad to counter-offer with a proposal of marriage (""I like your ideas on parenting, you'd make a good provider, and I have a weakness for short men""). Sixteen years later, the couple's daughter proves equally independent-minded when the king approaches her. The art is even more winning than the story: the king's palace is filled with famous works of art, e.g., the Mona Lisa, all featuring the vain monarch in place of their actual subjects; spreads spoof the Tres Riches Heures--and the prevailing loony lavishness will tickle those who don't get the visual allusions. A 24-karat prize. Ages 5-up. (Apr.)