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One of the most exquisite picture books of the season, Zelinsky's Rumplestiltskin will have strong appeal for children and for adult picture-book collectors alike. The artist has illustrated numerous award-winners, including Hansel and Gretel (a Caldecott Honor Book) and The Story of Mrs. Lovewright and Purrless Her Cat (a New York Times Best Illustrated Book of the Year). Here Zelinsky has retold the narrative himself; he has captured the magic and frightening wonder of the tale while incorporating elements from a number of 19th century Grimm versions.
The spare story flows beautifully, and the illustrations are extraordinary. Incredibly detailed full-color paintings show the influence of careful study of styles and techniques of European portrait and landscape painters. In Hansel and Gretel, the tale's dark side was communicated principally through Zelinsky's depiction of a powerful and frightening background. But here the interior scenesheaps and heaps of straw, and baskets of empty spindles, with rooms suddenly full of golden threadcarry the story.
The little man Rumplestiltskin is by turns mysterious, comforting, devious, furious and pathetic. And Zelinsky shows dramatically the love that the miller's daughter has for her child, and the terror she feels when she realizes she may have to give him up. Rumplestiltskin is a tour de force by an immensely talented artist. Zelinsky is that rare practitioner who can create sophisticated work that adults will marvel at, and that children will joyfully embrace.