cover image Rumpelstiltskin


Jacob Ludwig Carl Grimm, Brothers Grimm, Alison Sage. Dial Books, $12.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8037-0908-9

This new rendition of the Grimm classic comes up short when compared to Paul Zelinsky's Caldecott Honor version. The retelling, in an odd mix of formal and familiar tones, downplays the story's essential magic, mystery and suspense. Spirin's ( Once There Was a Tree ; The Fool and the Fish ) artistic interpretation is not quite up to his usual level of excellence here--many of the book's pages feature surprisingly bare scenes of characters standing about talking to one another. Even the climactic scene in which Rumpelstiltskin unwittingly reveals his name is related entirely through Sage's exposition rather than Spirin's art (Zelinsky's interpretation of this same scene is an eerie, full-page masterpiece). Rumpelstiltskin himself, as portrayed here, is not a frightening or even odd creature; he is merely a very short, well-dressed man. Though Spirin's paintings of costumes and courtly splendor are, as always, elegant, Rumpelstiltskin is a tale that demands drama and flair. Ages 4-8. (Mar.)