It’s particularly appropriate for me to cover Liesl Shurtliff’s RUMP: THE TRUE STORY OF RUMPELSTILTSKIN this week for MMGM. Why, you might ask? Because I was first introduced to Liesl through The Writer’s Voice contest, which is happening this week. My coach, Krista Van Dolzer, is one of Liesl’s critique partners (her name’s in the acknowledgments!), and after the contest, Krista assigned each of her team members a published/pre-published author to critique our query and first page. Liesl was my assigned author, and I so appreciated her comments. I’ve been anxiously awaiting this book for a year, and I’m so excited to feature it today!
To kick this off, here’s the description:
Rump has never known his full name–his mother died before she could tell him. So all his life he’s been teased and bullied for his half-a-name. But when he finds an old spinning wheel, his luck seems to change. For Rump discovers he can spin straw into gold. Magical gold.
His best friend, Red, warns him that magic is dangerous–and she’s right! That gold is worth its weight in trouble. And with each thread he spins, Rump weaves himself deeper into a curse.
There’s only one way to break the spell: Rump must go on a quest to find his true name, along the way defending himself against pixies, trolls, poison apples, and one beautiful but vile-mannered queen. The odds aren’t great for a small boy in a land of fairy-tale bullies, but with courage and friendship–and a cheeky sense of humor–Rump just might triumph in the end.
Here are the five things I loved most about this book:
1. The familiar – I admit I don’t know much about Rumpelstiltskin. What I do know is mostly gathered from “Once Upon A Time,” but even before that the two things that stuck in my mind about Rumpelstiltskin were that his name is important and that magic has a price. Those two themes are woven skillfully into this book, making the story seem familiar even while it twists the fairy tale into something new.
2. The new – There are some cases where I really don’t like a fairy tale being redone–usually when they mess with the happily ever after–but I really enjoyed the way Liesl Shurtliff re-created Rumpelstiltskin as a boy. He’s usually one of those shadowy fairy tale characters you’re not too sure about. I also liked her take on pixies, trolls, and gnomes.
3. The name – So I’m back to the name, but I just have to say how clever it is. Liesl Shurtliff does an excellent job cluing the reader in through Rump’s voice even though he doesn’t get it yet himself. I guess it’s unavoidable since we know his name before the story starts, but it’s fun to see how he arrives at it. And as a side note, the jokes related to his shortened name were great fun.
4. The friendship – Rump and Red have an interesting friendship. I thought from the flap copy that they were already best friends, but really their relationship grows during the story. I especially enjoyed their conversations via gnome messages. I look forward to reading Red’s story next!
5. Rump’s rhymes – I like that Rump’s thing is making up rhymes and that he shares that with his Gran and later Aunt Ida. Here’s an example:
“Home is a place to get out of the rain
It cradles the hurt and mends the pain
And no one cares about your name
Or the height of your head
Or the size of your brain”
So, have you added RUMP to your fairy tale retelling list yet? If you’ve already read it, what did you enjoy most?