Debut author Shurtliff upends the traditional characterization of this fairy tale's antihero, recasting Rumpelstiltskin as a sympathetic and tragically doomed protagonist. His mother dies shortly after childbirth and only manages to utter half a name, Rump, making him the butt of jokes and also influencing his fate. "In The Kingdom your name isn't just what people call you. Your name is full of meaning and power. Your name is your destiny," he explains. The author effectively builds the devastating events—including the death of his Gran, hunger, and hopelessness—that lead Rump to discover his ability to spin straw into gold, riches he trades to the town swindler, the miller. When the miller lies to the king and tells him his daughter possesses this ability, Rump steals into the castle to help her, trading magic for trinkets until she offers her firstborn, which the rules of magic dictate he must accept. Shurtliff fills Rump's world with common magic and deadpan humor; the picaresque-style narrative gives the maligned character a refreshingly plainspoken voice, while honoring the original story's hauntingly strange events. Ages 8–12. Agent: Michelle Andelman, Regal Literary. (Apr.)
From the Publisher
People Magazine, August 12, 2013:
"A fresh riff on the Grimm Brothers' Rumpelstiltskin, told with wit from the impish point of view of the troublemaker himself."
The Denver Post, May 6, 2013:
“A startlingly original book.”
Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews, March 15, 2013:
“As good as gold.”
School Library Journal, May, 2013:
“A beguiling take on a classic tale.... This captivating fantasy has action, emotional depth, and lots of humor.”
BookPage, April 9, 2013:
“Shurtliff takes the traditional fairy tale and turns it on its head, interspersing humor with tenderness, action with insight. Rump shows the other side of Rumpelstiltskin, one of the most vilified characters in fairy tales, and reminds readers that in a good story, very little is as it seems.”
"Liesl Shurtliff does more than spin words into gold—she gets us rooting for Rumpelstiltskin, a most magical feat."
—Kirby Larson, Newbery Honor-winning author of Hattie Big Sky
"Lighthearted and inventive, Rump amusingly expands a classic tale."
—Brandon Mull, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Fablehaven
Children's Literature - Elizabeth Fronk
Twelve-year-old Rump does not know why he was given this strange name. It matters because, in his kingdom, your name is your destiny. With a rather unfortunate name, Rump’s need for gold seems particularly intense. Here is his account of his experience as the tiny man who could spin straw into gold. In this version, Rump discovers his mother’s spinning wheel and learns it can make gold thread from straw. This brings trouble, as King Bartholomew wants the thread. The greedy miller sends his daughter Opal away and tells the king that she can spin straw into gold. Rump attempts to rescue Opal but discovers that he must bargain with her so the gold does not vanish. Rump leaves the castle in order to learn about his mother and search for a stiltskin to fix his spinning travails. He encounters some helpful trolls along the way and meets wool witches who turn out to be his aunts. Along the way, Rump learns that he is bigger than his name and can have more control over his destiny. Rump’s first-person narrative adds humor, as does his friendship with spunky “Red,” who might be better known as “Little Red Riding Hood.” Readers can appreciate the combination of well-known fairy tale elements and Shurtliff’s wry tone, whether they read this book for themselves or enjoy it as a classroom read-aloud. Reviewer: Elizabeth Fronk; Ages 8 to 11.
School Library Journal
Gr 3–6—A beguiling take on a classic tale. In The Kingdom, one's name is full of meaning and power, and young Rump is sure that his is incomplete. Just before his mother died in childbirth, she only managed to utter, "His name is Rump…." And so Rump grows up with his grandmother, mining the mountain for specks of gold for their greedy king and suffering ridicule for his name. Shurtliff's world-building is inventive and immediately believable: gnomes rush about delivering messages they have somewhat memorized, gold-craving pixies are flying and biting nuisances, and wise witches live in the woods, as does a band of huge smelly trolls. All the elements of the original story are here-the greedy miller, the somewhat dimwitted daughter, and Rump's magical ability to spin straw into gold-but Shurtliff fleshes out the boy's backstory, developing an appealing hero who is coping with the curse of his magical skills while searching for his true name and destiny. This captivating fantasy has action, emotional depth, and lots of humor.—Caroline Ward, The Ferguson Library, Stamford, CT
Shurtliff turns the Rumpelstiltskin tale on end, providing the heartbreaking yet humorous history of the manikin's dilemma. When he is born, his mother only manages to say part of his name before she passes: "Rump." His name becomes the source of teasing, and while Rump can appreciate the humor--sometimes--he is concerned. His name is his destiny; how can he grow when he does not know his full name? To his surprise, Rump also discovers he can spin straw into gold--a curse, since when Rump trades the gold, he must accept whatever is offered. Using a crisp, cheeky tone and with the back story meticulously built, the landscape mapped out and the characters in place (including some nods to other fairy-tale denizens), Rump's romp begins. The miller is greedy and worsens the situation when he tells the king that it is his daughter who spins gold. Rump tries to save her, but she is frustratingly fatuous and makes terrible trades (a baby!). Witches do not offer much advice, other than "Watch your step." When Rump learns that he must find a "stiltskin" to break the curse, it may also be the clue he needs to figure out his name. In his moment of triumph, children will want to dance alongside the unlikely, likable hero. As good as gold. (author's note) (Fantasy. 8-12)
What People are saying about this
From the Publisher
"Liesl Shurtliff does more than spin words into gold—she gets us rooting for Rumpelstiltskin, a most magical feat." —Kirby Larson, Newbery Honor-winning author of Hattie Big Sky
"Lighthearted and inventive, Rump amusingly expands a classic tale." —Brandon Mull, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Fablehaven