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Monday, September 27, 2010

Rapunzel's Revenge, written by Shannon and Dean Hale and illustrated by Nathan Hale. Bloomsbury, Penguin. 2008. $16.50 ages 8 and up

"I lived in a grand villa...with loyal servants...tasty food...and my mother. Or who I thought was my mother. But more on that in a minute. The Villa had three stories, seventy-eight rooms, one thousand and twelve chairs. I know, because I counted them all. There wasn't much else to do. Yep. Home."

You think you know the story of Rapunzel? Not this one, you don't! As a young girl Rapunzel lives with the woman she believes to be her mother. Rapunzel is nothing, if not inquisitive and quite intelligent. As she gets older, she begins to question some of the goings on in the castle where she lives. She has a healthy interest in what is happening beyond the pretty garden where she spends much of her time. Finally, she climbs to the top of that walled garden and is astonished at what she sees! Her cursiosity does not sit well with 'her mother' and she is soon banished to a lonely tower, with no one for company. We suspect she is waiting for a handsome prince to come forth and rescue her. Again, we would be wrong! She doesn't need a man to get her out of the trouble she has gotten herself into...she needs chutzpah, and that she has in spades.

In this spirited retelling of an old and traditional fairy tale, Shannon and Dean Hale give us a story that will entertain and delight their readers. Add to that, Nathan Hale (no relation) has drawn this tale in graphic form
with all of the spirit and humor that the words and settings convey. They all seem to take great delight in the telling. They are not averse to mixing elements of other familiar stories in, and they do so with great success. It begins in all innocence, sticking close to the original story of a mother and her much loved child. The mother is definitely in control and the child is aquiescent to her mother's suggestions and directions. They live well. Rapunzel is naive to the outer world, until she develops a sense of social justice. She finds her real mother, living in reprehensible conditions. When she is found out, she is sent into exile.

As her hair grows, she develops a plan for escape. Ultimately successful and free of her prison, she escapes to the forest where she meets Jack, a young man on the run. He is a thief (of a goose that lays golden eggs). When she learns that her 'real' mother has been imprisoned by her 'witch' mother, Rapunzel is livid and sets out to alter that situation.

Funny and fast moving, this great adventure will have its readers quickly turning its pages, laughing out loud at the witty dialogue and  the over-the-top antics of the two main characters, and rooting for them to get the job done! Ah, and there is a little romance, in keeping with the best fairy tales.

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