giraffedays [at] gmail [dot] com

Follow on Bloglovin

Subscribe via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive new posts by email.

Featured Posts

  • Fancy Words for the Sophisticated Reader Fancy Words for the Sophisticated Reader Want to spice up your reviews with some fancy-sounding words? Here's a list to get you started.
  • Mosaic: Trends in YA Covers Mosaic: Trends in YA Covers
  • Dystopian Fiction: What is it really? Dystopian Fiction: What is it really? With the glut of so-called dystopian fiction on the YA market lately, it’s clear that many publishers are throwing the label around willy-nilly, perhaps because it sounds better than “post-apocalyptic science fiction”, which is what most of these books really are. But what IS a dystopia, really?
  • Top Ten Books Read in 2011 Top Ten Books Read in 2011 My ten favourite books read last year.
  • On Writing "Reviews", or whatever you want to call them On Writing "Reviews", or whatever you want to call them What is it we book bloggers do here? Are we writing reviews or just sharing our thoughts? What IS a book review, anyway?
  • 6 Fantastic Picture Books 6 Fantastic Picture Books
  • Thoughts on 'The Revenant Past' & the Tasmanian Gothic Thoughts on 'The Revenant Past' & the Tasmanian Gothic



For a full list of my reviews, visit my Review Index.


books on my shelves

2223 TBR

See the full list of my books on Goodreads!

Recently Read

  • getting of wisdom getting of wisdom
  • avery avery
  • silent in the grave silent in the grave
  • house of new beginnings house of new beginnings
  • crow country crow country
  • whites whites
  • valentine valentine
  • only ever yours only ever yours
  • mercy street mercy street
  • red queen - aveyard red queen - aveyard
  • Working Stiff Working Stiff
  • blondes blondes
  • animal people animal people
  • firelight firelight
  • ultraviolet ultraviolet
  • strange the dreamer strange the dreamer




Free Delivery on all Books at the Book Depository

Rating System

Utter crap

It was okay

Liked it but ...

Really liked it




444,895 hits
(since April 2010)

Favourite Books

The Book Thief
Dark Desires After Dusk
No Rest for the Wicked
The Cage of Nine Banestones
Diary of a Wombat
A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian
The Ring of Five Dragons
Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell
The Bone Doll's Twin
Pleasure of a Dark Prince
Rhiannon's Ride Series Books 1 to 3: The Tower of Ravens, The Shining City, The Hearts of Stars
The Red Tree
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
One Foot in the Grave
The Witches
Mister Magnolia

Shannon's favorite books »

RapunzelRapunzel by Paul O Zelinsky
Puffin Books 2002 (1997)
36 pages
Children’s Classics; Fairytale

Once upon a time there was a happily married couple whose only sorrow was that they did not have a child. Then one day, they learn the woman is pregnant and the sorrow is replaced with joy. The wife liked to sit by the window overlooking a beautiful walled garden owned by a sorceress. One day she saw an abundant bed of the herb rapunzel, and a great need to eat some overcome her. Telling her husband she will die if she doesn’t have some, he dutifully climbs down into the garden and steals some. But it’s not enough, and the next day he goes back – and is caught by the sorceress.

On explaining his problem to her, she tells him he can take the rapunzel, but in exchange she will take their baby when it is born. She names the child Rapunzel, and raises her in isolation in the wilderness. When Rapunzel turns twelve, the sorceress takes her through the forest and puts her in a tall, narrow tower with no door and only one window, high up. It’s a magic tower, and spacious inside, but Rapunzel is sealed off from the world. To get inside, the sorceress calls out “Rapunzel Rapunzel, let down your hair”, and she climbs it.

One day a prince discovers the tower and is curious; he has heard rumours of a fabled beauty trapped inside. He hides in the forest and witnesses the sorceress’s method for gaining access. When the sorceress is gone, he calls out to Rapunzel to lower her hair and climbs inside, giving her the shock of her life. But he’s nice and friendly and soon they become lovers and Rapunzel falls pregnant. The sorceress, on discovering that Rapunzel has betrayed her, cuts off her hair and sends her out into the wilderness to perish. Instead, Rapunzel survives and has not one baby but twins, a boy and a girl.

Meanwhile, when the prince returns to the tower and calls out to Rapunzel to lower her hair, the sorceress hooks the shorn hair to the window and confronts him at the top of the tower. She tells him Rapunzel is lost to him forever, and in shock and despair he falls. He doesn’t die, but he is blinded and weak, and stumbles for months through the wilderness until, lo! he hears Rapunzel’s voice and finds her. Her tears of joy fall onto his face and his blindness is cured. Together with their two children they return to the town and the king’s palace, where they live happily ever after.

“Rapunzel” wasn’t a story I really read as a kid – I didn’t have my own copy, or a beloved version. I knew the story in a vague way, but I don’t know if that’s because Rapunzel tropes and distinctive symbols crop up so much in our society and culture (like a lot of other fairy tales and Shakespeare plays). In short, I can’t actually say with any certainty whether I read the story as a child or not. As an adult with a young child of my own, I suddenly became interested in collecting really good editions of fairy tales and other classic stories – hence my lovely Robert Ingpen-illustrated editions of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and others.

Finding a good edition of fairy tales is a harder task, though. Ideally, I wanted to browse through book shops and check out the version quality (text) and the illustrations, before committing to buying any. Sadly, the bookshops only had rather trite and silly, or Disneyfied, editions, collections of heavily abridged stories in “bedtime” volumes. So I took a gamble on Paul O Zelinsky’s beautifully illustrated retelling, buying it without being able to check it out first.

And it is a beautiful rendering of the story of Rapunzel. I wanted a version that hadn’t been made cutesy or had the darkness removed from it – fairy tales should be dark stories, they were originally moralistic, cautionary warning tales, after all. Zelinsky’s illustrations are vivid and richly detailed, colourful and patterned yet still broody and full of atmosphere. (I do find the prince’s mullet to be a bit off-putting, though!) The story reads well, though in typical fairy tale fashion, plot holes abound. You just have to take those in stride; realism was never the point of a fairy tale, though Zelinsky (whose is “the son of a mathematics professor and a medical illustrator” according to his Goodreads page) provides a lot of precision in his illustrations, which also have the feel of classic Italian paintings. The illustrations are both real and romantic; as an adult I feel that they don’t really capture the human emotions or fill in any gaps in the story, but I also feel that as a child I would have been drawn to this style of illustration (I liked the precise and finely detailed, like intricate mazes and Where’s Wally? pictures).

rapunzel-page 17

rapunzel-page 18

rapunzel-page 26

rapunzel-page 28

Not having anything to compare it to, though, I can’t offer an opinion on this retelling over others. I’ve given you an abridged run-down of Zelinsky’s retelling above, and I’d love to hear how it compares to other versions that you’ve read. This is just the kind of edition I was looking for, and it has a three-page “note” at the back about the history of the story and its history, and the alterations its undergone over the centuries, which is by far the more fascinating part of the story for me! My young son, however, is quite interested in the story itself, and I hope it will be one he (and any sibling he may have) can enjoy for years to come.

2 comments to Review: Rapunzel

  • haha I’m definitely at that stage too where I just keep buying pretty editions of classics even though I haven’t read them, most recently was Anne of Green Gables which thankfully I’m really enjoying. I’ve never really given a thought about different fairytale versions though, to be honest I didn’t even know there was a myriad of retellings so you’ve really piqued my interest. Thanks for sharing!


    Shannon Reply:

    There are so many beautiful editions coming out, aren’t there? I have several copies of Jane Eyre already!

    I always feel a bit regretful that I wasn’t “into” fairy tales more as a kid, because I really don’t know many of them, and I feel like there’s a real gap in my literacy because of it. So it was nice to read this in that sense, too. 🙂


Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>




CommentLuv badge