Reviews for Girl Who Spun Gold


Booklist Monthly Selections - #1 August 2000
/*Starred Review*/ Ages 4^-8. This stirring picture book will make even older readers think about a story they thought they knew. In immediate, colloquial style, with a rhythm just right for reading aloud, Hamilton retells a West Indian version of the universal little-man (Rumpelstiltskin) folktale. The trouble starts with Quashiba's mother. She boasts that her daughter can spin and weave a whole field of the finest gold thread. The greedy young Big King believes the lie, marries the lovely Quashiba, and after a year, locks her away and orders her to fill three rooms with gold. The little monster Lit'mahn promises to spin that gold for her. He does so in an uproar of wild, dancing energy. In return, Quashiba must guess his full name or be carried away by him forever. In the style of Gustav Klimt's patterned compositions, the Dillons' exquisite illustrations are both lavish and intricate. They express the romantic pageantry of palace and prince, and also the subversive presence of the sharp-toothed demon who lurks everywhere. The weaver's exquisitely detailed work evokes traditional African geometric cloths as well as contemporary gold-leaf floral designs. The ending is a surprise: no longer innocent, Quashiba is furious at the king for treating her so badly; he's sorry about his greed; and they live "fairly" happily ever after. As for Lit'mahn, he may still be around, just like now, "when his story be told." The dramatic words and pictures show that evil is in the humans who love the beautiful maiden as well as in the scary monster who threatens her. ((Reviewed August 2000)) Copyright 2000 Booklist Reviews

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2001 Spring
This adaptation of a West Indian version of ""Rumpelstiltskin"" not only has plenty of mischief in its own right but also gives some spirit to its heroine, poignancy to its trickster, and long overdue payback to its greedy king. Gold paint, naturally, frames the theatrically posed pictures, which contrast rich patterns in clothing and dTcor with elegant portraiture of the (human) principals. With its easygoing lilt, the text reads aloud well. Copyright 2001 Horn Book Guide Reviews

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Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2000 #5
Virginia Hamilton's adaptation of a West Indian version of "Rumpelstiltskin" not only has plenty of mischief in its own right but also gives some spirit to its heroine, poignancy to its trickster, and long overdue payback to its greedy king. The essential outline of the tale is the same, but the girl is Quashiba (and it's her mother rather than her father who does the fateful bragging); the king, handsome here, is "young Big King"; and the troublemaker is Lit'mahn Bittyun, a doubly diminutive name for a fellow enobled by Hamilton and the Dillons as an elemental nature spirit: "all that most could see of him was the way he sparkled." Gold paint, naturally, frames the theatrically posed pictures, which contrast rich patterns in clothing and d cor with elegant portraiture of the (human) principals; Lit'mahn himself is blue-skinned, with the countenance of an African mask and the bold posture of one who has never lost-yet. His comeuppance is satisfyingly grand ("Lit'mahn gave out a screech so loud, it turned the moon around. The hat jumped off his head. His ears fell off!") as is the king's ("Queen Quashiba would not talk to Big King for three long years and three long fields full of him saying, 'Forgive me, my Queen Quashiba! I was so greedy to ask for golden things. I have buried every padlock in our kingdom!"). In her closing note Hamilton explains how she did away with the "so-called black dialect" of the 1899 source and replaced it with an easygoing lilt; the story certainly reads aloud well. r.s. Copyright 2000 Horn Book Reviews

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Kirkus Reviews 2000 August #2
Hamilton (Bluish, 1999, etc.) turns her elegant style to a West Indian-based version of the Rumpelstiltskin story. Out riding, Big King spies Quashiba, who, her mother told him, could spin a whole field of gold cloth. Taken by her beauty and her mother'sboasting, he marries her--and after a year and a day locks her in a room to spin. Lit'mahn Bittyun, a horrid little creature with a long tail, a wooden leg, and sharp teeth, appears and promises to aid her for three nights. If she cannot guess his name after the third, he will turn her into a tiny, hideous being like himself. Quashiba grows angry with Big King for using her so ill, but on the second night, when they dine together, he tells of overhearing a funny little man singing his true name. Thus Quashiba bests Lit'mahn, who explodes "in a million bitty flecks of gold." (It's three years, though, before she forgives Big King.) The Dillons (To Every Thing There Is a Season, 1998, etc.) have taken their hieratic and magical style to new heights here, overlaying pattern after pattern of cloth, drapery, and architectural detail. Burnished color is lavishly overlaid with gold, heightening visual intensity to a fever pitch. The nasty little man is particularly effective, limned as carefully as a poisoned jewel box. (Picture book/fairy tale. 5-9) Copyright 2000 Kirkus Reviews

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2000 July #5
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.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

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School Library Journal Reviews 2000 September
K-Gr 3-After Quashiba's mother tells Big King that her daughter can spin golden thread, the lovely young woman finds herself wed to the handsome ruler. She enjoys a year of marriage but then must fill three rooms with gold cloth or remain imprisoned forever. Lit'mahn, a tiny devil-like creature that lurks in the shade of old trees, comes to her aid but challenges her to discover his name within three nights or he will carry her away. True to his promise, he fills the storerooms and Quashiba fulfills her part of the bargain. Luckily, on a royal outing Big King hears Lit'mahn chant his full name and shares his odd tale with his wife. The source of this folktale is apparent in the distinctive and lilting West Indian dialect that pervades this humorous and, at times, scary telling. The lavish use of gold within the acrylic illustrations and their frames is sumptuous and the royal formality is further enhanced by the page layout. The stylized and flat depiction of fabrics and backgrounds contrasts effectively with the expressively rendered people. And Lit'mahn, with his jagged teeth and pointy tail, is a cruel-looking creature indeed. The author explains the derivation of this variant on the final page, which also includes an interesting description of the illustration process. Readers familiar with "Tom Tit Tot" and "Rumpelstiltskin" will enjoy this island cousin, but it easily stands on its own as a charming and visually stunning tale of cunning, greed, and quixotic good fortune.-Carol Ann Wilson, Westfield Memorial Library, NJ Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

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