by Liesl Shurtliff (2013)
We invite readers to revisit, rediscover, and rethink what you know about fairy tales in the witty and sly Rump: The (Fairly) True Tale of Rumpelstiltskin. Author Liesl Shurtliff presents a parodic homage to the Grimm Brothers’ story of Rumpelstiltskin, the first in her series of fractured fairy tales.
“My mother named me after a cow’s rear end.”
That’s the first sentence. Are you feeling sorry for Rump? Or are you laughing at his name? Shurtliff establishes a back-and-forth tension between sympathy and humor that immediately earns the reader’s empathy and trust.
Readers will laugh, but Rump is more vexed. He is cursed by his name, but also by the belief in his kingdom that your name is your destiny. What is Rump’s destiny? He enters a quest to find out.
Every aspect of Rump’s life is tangled…his family, reputation, finances, and friendships. There’s something there for every reader to identify with. How does he escape? Through rhymes – which present a chance for readers to channel their inner Dr. Seuss.
Rump narrates his own odyssey and soon discovers an unexpected curse: he has the ability to spin straw into gold. That sounds like a stroke of luck, but Rump finds that his magical ability comes with unforeseen, unexpected, and unthinkable consequences. These challenges afford readers the perfect opportunity to embark on conversations about responsibility and accountability.
Shurtliff’s clever retelling presents a springboard for moral discoveries and points to ponder: bullying, the importance of a name, children bearing the burden of parents’ decisions, being able to laugh at yourself, and creating your destiny. All from a fairy tale!
Once you see how Shurtliff weaves elements of the classic Rumpelstiltskin into her riff, including her crafty references to other fairy tales, readers are likely to want to read Shurtfliff’s reimaginings of other Grimm Brothers’ work (and perhaps even return to the originals first!). You’ll want to stock your library with Red: The (Fairly) True Tale of Red Riding Hood; Jack: The (Fairly) True Tale of Jack and the Beanstalk; and Grump: The (Fairly) True Tale of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. Rump is only the beginning…not the rear end!