Zelinsky, P. (1986). Rumpelstiltskin. New York: Penguin Books USA Inc.
Rumpelstiltskin is a wonder fale or fairy tale type of folktale. There is an element of magic in this story when the little man spins all the straw into gleaming gold. The main characters in the story are Ms. Miller and Rumpelstiltskin. The setting of the story is mainly at the king's castle. As mentioned in the text, settings of folktales are often vague, as with this story. The story begins with the words, "Once there was a poor miller who had a beautiful daughter." Once doesn't exactly tell us when; therefore, the setting is vague and unimportant. This book would be appropriate for grades K-3.
The miller desires for his daughter to meet a rich man, so he goes into town and tells the king that his daughter can spin straw into gold. The miller lies in hopes of his daughter finding a husband. This intrigued the king so he sent for her. The king gave the girl all the materials she needed, and told her that by morning, all of the straw should be turned into gold. The girl had no idea what to do! She couldn't turn this straw into gold! As she was sitting worrying how she was going to make this happen, a small man appeared and offered to do it for her if she would get him something of hers in return. When the king saw all the gold the next morning, he became greedy, and gave her even more to spin. Once again, the little man appeared and did it for her after she gave him another one of her personal belongings. The next time the king gave her more to spin, he told her that he would marry her if she succeeded in turning the rest of the straw into gold. As always, the little man appeared again, but the girl was out of things to give the little man. The little man said he would spin the last of the straw if she would give him her firstborn child. She agreed because she didn't even know if she would have a child. The little man turned all the straw into gold. With that, the king married the girl. Sometime later, the queen had a son. The little man returned to take the child, but the queen pleaded. The little man said that if she could figure out what his name was, that she could keep her child. How will the queen find out the man's name? Will she have to give him her only son? These questions will be answered when you read Rumpelstiltskin.
The artistic style of this book would be folk art because the pictures show us that this story could be set in the distant past, when parents chose husbands for their daughters. The artistic media of the pictures is painting. The illustrator probably used media such as tempera or oils.
The author used dialogue and thought to help the reader understand personality in the story. There are parts where the daughter and the little man are conversing and there are quotations in the story that are the girl's thoughts. The character development in the story would be flat characters. The girl's character is undeveloped, but we do learn a small amount about her. I would still consider all the characters to be flat ones. Person-against-person would be the type of conflict found in this folktale. The miller's daughter and Rumpelstiltskin have the most conflict when they are compromising with one another. The following poem is stated by Rumpelstiltskin in the story where we see the use of rhyme:
I brew my beer, I bake my loaves,
And soon the queen's own son I'll claim.
O lucky me! For no one knows
That Rumpelstiltskin is my name!
There are many elements of fantasy in folktales. One example in this story is when Rumpelstiltskin jumps on his spoon and flies out the window. Onomatopoeia is used in the story with the use of "whir!" to imitate the sound of the spinning wheel.
BIG questions - Why do you think Rumpelstiltskin wanted the queen's baby so badly? What use do you think he'd have for a baby? How do you think the miller felt about lying to the king and putting his daughter through this suffering?