Fairytales & Folklore
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Rapunzel by Paul O. Zelinsky


This is another Caldecott Book winner (gold sticker) by Zelinsky that takes German and French folktales of Rapunzel and Petrosinella (respectively) and sets it in a world full of Italian influences.  Rapunzel is born to a family who are living somewhere in Italy — you can tell from the outdoor gardens, Greek sculptures and the lovely terracotta tile roofs.

In the end notes, Zelinsky discusses the presence of a campanile, a bell tower, on the Italian landscape. With this in mind, he designed Rapunzel’s tower as a magnificent bell tower, ornate with geometic designs and a terra-cotta roof.  Rapunzel is the belle in the tower (pun intended) and  the story continues much as every version does.

Something I’ve always wondered about the sorceress is why she is angered at the news of Rapunzel’s pregnancy. Why did she want to keep Rapunzel “safe from the world”? Really, I think she means “safe from men” which leads me to wonder, is the sorceress sort of like the fairy tale version of Dickens’ Miss Havisham? Was she betrayed some time in her past?  The possibilities are interesting.

In most versions of Rapunzel, this detail of her pregnancy has been changed and Rapunzel complains about how heavy the old woman is compared to the prince.  I think this is grossly unfair to the sorceress.  Who do you think would weigh more — a strapping, young and hale prince, or a feeble, elderly woman?  I mean, come on Rapunzel! You wanted to have that conversation out, didn’t you? I wish I had a gif for every time I heard that story.

I wish that Zelinsky would do more fairy tales but he’s moved on to some other picture books, including The Wheels on the Bus. If you like these books illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky,  you may also like these tall tales he’s illustrated:

  • Swamp Angel
  • Dust Devil
You can learn more about Zelinsky at his website: http://www.paulozelinsky.com/.
This entry was posted in: Fairytales & Folklore


Lauren Miller is a Midwestern born writer with a passion for Jesus, the written word, and dogs. She has seventeen years of experience in the library field and reviews books for the Historical Novels Review (UK). Lauren is the Managing Web Editor and writer for The Scribe, a web publication of the St. Louis Writers Guild, where she also serves as their Director of Communications. She likes to spend her free time enjoying period films, discovering new reads, and being surrounded by other people’s pets. Lauren, her husband, and their wily Maine Coon (who isn’t quite a dog) live in Missouri. You can learn more about Lauren’s writing at LaurenJoanMiller.com.

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