Growing Bookworms Newsletter: January 9
Cloudette: Tom Lichtenheld

Rapunzel: Sarah Gibb

Book: Rapunzel: Based on the Original Story by the Brothers Grimm
Author: Sarah Gibb
Pages: 32
Age Range: 4 - 8 

61NPGyQA9OL._SL500_AA300_Sarah Gibb's Rapunzel is a retelling of the classic folktale. As with most such retellings, the point is not so much the story as the illustrations. Gibbs' version is quite faithful to the traditional version of the story, are her illustrations are gorgeous. (As a side note: I found it interesting to read about Rapunzel variants in this Wikipedia article. I haven't seen Tangled yet.)

This Rapunzel is a fairly text-heavy picture book (it's a complex story). The tale is told straight-up, with no rhyming, and quite an advanced vocabulary and sentence structure. Like this:

"Rapunzel knew instinctively that it would be dangerous to mention the young prince and so she said nothing when the witch returned the next day. But her heart was in her mouth when, as soon as she was alone again, he was at the foot of the tower, calling to her to lower her hair once more."

I personally find this traditional Rapunzel annoyingly passive, and the device of her healing tears curing the prince's injuries to be too convenient. But that's not Sarah Gibbs' fault - that's the way the story goes.

I do think that Gibbs' illustrations are lovely. She portrays Rapunzel with pink and white flowers woven through her long hair. The tower where Rapunzel is held is, although a prison, also a magical place, with rooms full of ornate furnishings. Gibbs renders some of the illustrations (including an interior view of the tower) as intricate black silhouettes, with only a few accents of color. They are quite eye-catching. The exterior of the tower is beautiful, too, with vines growing out and around a series turrets sticking out from the top.

So, if you are looking for a beautifully illustrated version of Rapunzel, one that is faithful to the Brother's Grimm version (without the raciest parts), Sarah Gibbs' version is definitely worth a look. I think that the image of Rapunzel as portrayed by Gibbs, with flowers braided (or growing) all through her long hair, will stay with me. Recommended.

Publisher: Albert Whitman and Company (@AlbertWhitman)
Publication Date: March 1, 2011
Source of Book: Library copy
Nominated for 2011 Cybils in Fiction Picture Books by: Michelle Bayuk

© 2011 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).