cover image Rapunzel


Alix Berenzy. Henry Holt & Company, $15.95 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-8050-1283-5

Sidestepping the Brothers Grimm and eschewing the sugary fripperies of many versions of Rapunzel, Berenzy (A Frog Prince) takes the original German story as her basis for this potent retelling. The happy ending is even harder won, and the obstacles to true love far harsher: here, Mother Gothel (the fairy who confines Rapunzel to the tower) discovers Rapunzel's plan to elope with the prince, cuts Rapunzel's tresses and casts her into the desert, then sees to it that the prince is blinded. Mother Gothel, with her knife-edged features and fortress-like stance, is no less than terrifying in Berenzy's depictions--it's also worth noting that Mother Gothel escapes all punishment. The illustrations, rendered on black paper with colored pencils and gouaches, emphasize the movement between darkness and light, reflecting the tensions in the text. She hauntingly recreates the shadowy interior of Rapunzel's tower and nighttime in Mother Gothel's garden. The prince, in an emerald tunic, represents a splash of spring in Rapunzel's somber surroundings. Strong meat, this is perhaps better suited to readers slightly older than those in the target range. Ages 3-7. (Oct.)