Author: Brothers Grimm
CALDECOTT J398.2094 GERMANY ZEL
In older versions of the classic tale Rapunzel, it always seemed improbable that a grown man could scale a tower using only his beloved’s hair. Not so in Paul O. Zelinsky’s Caldecott Medal-winning version of Rapunzel. Here, Rapunzel’s reddish-blonde mane is thick with waves and braids, and cascades like a waterfall down the walls of her isolation tower. In Zelinsky’s able hands it’s easy to believe that a prince would harbor no hesitations about scrambling up our fair heroine’s hair.
Of course, this is not the work of an amateur—Zelinsky’s lush versions of Hansel and Gretel, Rumpelstiltskin, and Swamp Angel all earned him Caldecott Honors. His gorgeous, Italian Renaissance-styled illustrations are characterized by warm golden tones and the mesmerizing sensation of trompe l’oeuil. Not only does he have the touch of a world-class illustrator, Zelinsky has also proven himself a master storyteller. We are frightened when the sorceress demands to take the baby Rapunzel, we are alarmed when the flowing locks are cruelly shorn, and we rejoice when the prince and his now modest-haired love are reunited. The notes at the back of Rapunzel reveal his careful scholarship regarding the long history of the story (tracing its origins and transformations from Italy to France and finally to Germany and the Grimm brothers)—work that no doubt contributed to his clean, compelling version of the age-old tale. Children will be captivated by the magical story and evocative pictures and adults will delight in the fresh feel of a well-loved legend. (Click to see a sample spread. Illustration © 1997 by Paul O. Zelinsky, published by Dutton Children’s Books, a division of Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers.) (Ages 4 and older)