Reviews for Straw into Gold


Booklist Monthly Selections - #1 August 2001
Gr. 5-9. In this touching, dark story Schmidt extends the tale of Rumpelstiltskin to explore what might have happened if the queen had not guessed Rumpelstiltskin's name correctly. On his first trip to Wolverham with his Da, Tousle is caught up in the spectacle of prisoners being driven into the city for execution. When the king asks, "Is there one among you who would hinder the death of these rebels?" only Tousle and the queen speak out, thus thwarting the King's goal. The furious king will spare the prisoners' lives only if the boy and a young, blind rebel, Innes, can solve a riddle: "What fills a hand fuller than a skein of gold?" So begins a suspenseful quest that adds surprising twists and turns to the traditional fairy tale. Rumpelstiltskin remains elusive, but Tousle and Innes are complex, intriguing characters. The ending, satisfying if a bit too tidy, is actually a fitting fairy tale conclusion. Pair this with Vivian Vande Velde's Rumpelstiltskin Problem and Donna Jo Napoli's stories, which also add new charms to old favorites. ((Reviewed August 2001)) Copyright 2001 Booklist Reviews

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2001 Fall
What if Rumpelstiltskin's motives were noble? Answering that question, this novel spins the story of a blind boy who unexpectedly inherits a kingdom, a weakling who becomes strong, a common queen who becomes regal, and a kind orphan who tells their tale. Evil lords and good peasants abound, with enough magic to glue together these scattered pieces. Perhaps more type than original, the characters still show the value of kindness as good triumphs over evil. Copyright 2001 Horn Book Guide Reviews

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School Library Journal Reviews 2001 August
Gr 5-8-What would have happened if the queen had failed to guess Rumpelstiltskin's name and the odd little man had taken her child? Why did he want the young prince? Was his motivation selfish, or could he have been protecting the child from life-threatening danger? Imaginative answers to these questions skillfully blossom into a fantasy-flavored quest that begins when young Tousle leaves the secluded forest cottage he shares with his diminutive, magical, adoptive father Da, a spinner, and travels for the very first time to the city to view the king'sprocession. In Wolverham,Tousle becomes separated from Da and is surprised to find himself joining the queen in a plea for mercy for rebels facing execution. The king, acting against the wishes of his Twelve Great Lords, sets Tousle a riddle-"What fills a hand fuller than a skein of gold?"-and promises that the right answer will save the rebels' lives. Accompanied by a blind boy, Innes, Tousle seeks the riddle's solution on an adventure-filled journey to the Saint Eynsham Abbey, where the boys feel certain that the queen, who spends most of her time there in exile, will aid them. The youngsters find the solution to more than just the riddle as they learn the truth about the mysteries surrounding their own births, Rumpelstiltskin's identity, and the reason the child was taken from his parents. A good book to recommend to fans of Lloyd Alexander, Diana Wynne Jones, and J. R. R. Tolkien.-Ginny Gustin, Sonoma County Library System, Santa Rosa, CA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

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VOYA Reviews 2002 February
What if eleven years passed between the queen's eighth and ninth guesses of the name of the funny little man who spun straw into gold for her husband and king? Schmidt does a fine job of weaving the classic tale of Rumpelstiltskin into something fresh, diverse, and lovely. His story takes on the form of a quest for two young boys, Tousel, the foster son of a funny little man, and Innes, a blind beggar boy. Challenged by the king to answer the riddle, "What fills a hand fuller than a skein of gold?", the two quickly realize that their seven-day deadline is a ruse. The king's men in pursuit intend to murder them. The boys journey to the abbey where the estranged queen resides, convinced that the answer to the riddle lies with her. Once they arrive there, will she recognize her son? Which one is her son? Schmidt's medieval-style setting is rich in detail. Filled with action and written in evocative language, it is a suspenseful story that will find a wide audience. The adolescent in search for self is a figure with universal appeal. This fantasy novel is weighty in its themes not only of identity but also of estrangement, truth, forgiveness, love, and value. More polished than Donna Jo Napoli's Spinners (Dutton, 1999) and a well-developed rival to Vivian Vande Velde's The Rumpelstiltskin Problem (Houghton Mifflin, 2000), Schmidt's rendition would be an excellent choice for a unit on fairy tale retellings.-Beth Gallaway. 4Q 4P M J S Copyright 2002 Voya Reviews

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