cover image Rumpelstiltskin (Cloth)

Rumpelstiltskin (Cloth)

Marie-Louise Gay. Groundwood Books, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-88899-279-6

With so many retellings of Grimm tales available, it's difficult to break new ground, though in her artwork Gay (Rainy Day Magic) takes some original strokes. The simplified retelling includes some awkward sentences (""He began to spin, until all the straw was gold"") and some that are too wordy (""When he found everything done according to his wish, he ordered that the wedding be held at once, and the miller's daughter became a queen""). But Gay's artwork, rendered in graphite and colored pencils, incorporates some delightfully quirky details: legs and faces of animals show up in very unlikely spots (on the heroine's spinning wheel and the roots of trees), and a troupe of benign yet kid-enticing slimy creatures (bats and spiders), as well as swirls of dust and dirt, accompany the spiked-nose, would-be trickster. She takes some interesting approaches to the more dramatic scenes, too, as when the miller's daughter stands in the shadow of the greedy king as he points to the room where the mountain of straw awaits; or when miller and daughter are seen through the legs of the king's horse. Though not the ideal read-aloud, what stands out in this edition is the impish portrait of its near-villain. Ages 4-7. (Aug.)