Ernst's (Goldilocks Returns) wry text and busy pictures contribute equally to the humor of this rollicking retelling. Sporting three pigtails that stick straight up from her head, Zelda, daughter of the Royal Baker, looks every bit as foolish as she is made out to be. Since she "fancied herself much too special for work of any kind," the girl loafs around while her mother frantically bakes for the fussy queen. In an attempt to hide her daughter's slothfulness, the mother tells the queen that Zelda is such a hard worker that she refuses to stop spinning yarn. Delighted, the royal brings her to a tower, announcing that Zelda can marry the prince as soon as she finishes spinning the flax that fills the tower's three rooms. Enter the title characters, who up to this point have been hovering watchfully from outside the frames of the illustrations. With physical abnormalities that enable them to spin masterfully, fairies Anita, Benita and Bob (the last a paunchy bald man in a vest and bow tie) cheerfully complete Zelda's task. Ernst cleverly capitalizes on the story's inherent ironies as she reveals how her colorful characters get their just deserts especially Zelda, who inherits her mother's demanding job. A felicitously fractured fairy tale. Ages 4-8. (Mar.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
There are echoes of Rumpelstiltskin in this tale of miracle spinning, but here a foolish, lazy girl named Zelda, daughter of the hard-working Royal Baker, hopes to marry the Prince. The task set her by the queen is spinning flax into linen. The three strange fairies who come to her aid are Anita, with a huge foot to pump the wheel, Benita, with a huge tongue to wet the twisting fiber, and Bob, with his big thumb to wind it. Zelda must promise in turn to invite them to her wedding. On seeing them there, the prince fears Zelda will look like them and wants her to stop spinning. But having insisted that she "loves to work," Zelda ends up fittingly slaving away as Royal Baker, while her mother retires. This story is made more slap-stick by the exaggerated pastel colored drawings in framed scenes, richly filled with details of royal life along with fully visualized actions of the characters. The odd fairies are a charming trio, the prince a lazy fellow, and Zelda deserving of her fate. 2002, Dutton Children's Books/Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers, $16.99. Ages 4 to 8. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
K-Gr 3-Gussied up from the Grimm version but cut from the same cloth, this tale of laziness is told with contemporary wit and a new ending, but placed in a traditional setting. Zelda's mother, an overworked baker, asks her idle daughter to spin a bit of string to tie up a cake box before the Queen claims it. Zelda's earsplitting whine attracts the annoyed royal's attention so her mother explains by saying it was because her daughter loves work so much that she was begging to keep at it. The delighted Queen promises that Zelda will become her son's bride if she will come to the castle and spin three rooms of flax. Of course, the girl needs help and draws on three talented fairies, Anita, Benita, and Bob, who do the job and get to come to the royal wedding. However, because each fairy has a physical deformity caused by spinning-a large foot to pump the wheel, a tongue that hangs out to moisten the thread, and a huge thumb on which to wind it-the horrified prince declares that his bride will never have to spin again. The classic tale ends there, but in a new twist, the Queen declares that Zelda should take over the royal bakery from her mother. The prince remains as spoiled as ever, but Zelda gets her just deserts. Ernst's paintings use a full palette but with plenty of purples, pinks, and blues. Children will laugh at the modern retelling and at the story's outcome.-Susan Hepler, Burgundy Farm Country Day School, Alexandria, VA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
One of the Grimms' funnier and lesser-known tales receives an expansion and a new ending. When the Queen hears that Zelda, the Royal Baker's daughter, loves to spin, she immediately promises Zelda her son's hand in marriage if she can spin three great roomsful of flax. It sounds like a good deal-except that Zelda hates to spin, hates work of any sort. All appears to be lost, until three very peculiar fairies arrive to help; one has a grotesquely large foot, another's tongue sticks out permanently, and the third has a bizarre, swollen thumb-all due to the fairies' inordinate love of spinning. This offering hews quite closely to the original story, expanding somewhat to develop character and adding some contemporary dialogue ("Gross!" Zelda exclaims when the fairies offer to teach her to spin). When the fairies arrive at the girl's wedding and are introduced as her "cousins," the prince is so repulsed by their spinning-induced deformities that he begs his mother that his bride be relieved of all future spinning duties. The Grimms' tale ends here, but Ernst (Sea, Sand, Me!, 2001, etc.) adds a postscript that gives her disagreeable heroine her comeuppance: the Queen, under the impression that Zelda is an industrious sort, makes her the Royal Baker, a just desert missing from the original. The pastel line-and-watercolor illustrations invest each character with great personality, from the sly and petulant Zelda to the almost simple-mindedly genial fairies. While the message that industry is its own reward is never far from the top, the general silliness keeps didacticism from the story, making it one that kids are sure to ask for a second time. (Picture book/folktale. 5-8)