Review: Rump

I received this book for free from YA Books Central in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: RumpRump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin by Liesl Shurtliff
Published by Knopf BFYR on April 9, 2013
Genres: Fairy Tales, Humor, Retelling
Pages: 272
Format: Hardcover
Source: YA Books Central
AmazonThe Book Depository

This funny fractured fairytale goes behind the scenes of Rumpelstiltskin. "A most magical feat," writes Newbery Honor-winner Kirby Larson, "Liesl Shurtliff spins words into gold." 

In a magical kingdom where your name is your destiny, 12-year-old Rump is the butt of everyone's joke. But when he finds an old spinning wheel, his luck seems to change. Rump discovers he has a gift for spinning straw into gold. His best friend, Red Riding Hood, warns him that magic is dangerous, and she’s right. With each thread he spins, he weaves himself deeper into a curse.

To break the spell, Rump must go on a perilous quest, fighting off pixies, trolls, poison apples, and a wickedly foolish queen. The odds are against him, but with courage and friendship—and a cheeky sense of humor—he just might triumph in the end.

I flock to fairy tale retellings like greedy men flock to rumors of girls who can spin straw into gold. There’s just something delightful about these postmodern retellings that take the villain of the original and look into their back story, flipping everything on its head. Rump is a fairy tale that does just that, along with plenty of humor that middle grade audiences are sure to enjoy.

Shurtliff does a great job with the retelling aspect of Rump. She remains faithful to all the main elements of the Rumpelstiltskin fairy tale: the girl charged to turn straw into gold, the little man (or in this case boy) who comes to do it for her for a price, the name-guessing contest, and the foot stomp when she manages to guess his name. Of course, everything’s got a different slant on it, and the way she weaves all of that together is brilliant. What makes Rump especially neat is the way that Shurtliff threw in clever references to all sorts of other fairy tales. For example, Rump’s best friend is Red and he finds trees grown from the apple that put Snow White to sleep.

Rump doesn’t know his whole name. His mother died in the midst of naming him, and all anyone could make out was Rump. All his life he’s been the butt of jokes. No one takes a kid named Rump seriously, especially when he’s shrimpy, barely passing for 8 even though he’s 12. Plus, names are really important in their kingdom, so he just feels lost. When his Gran dies, Rump has no choice but to find a way to support himself, which happens to involve his mom’s spindle which Gran told him not to mess with. Turns out that Rump can spin straw into gold, which is a pretty nifty talent and should set him up for life. Unfortunately, the miller doesn’t pay him more than enough to subsist, no matter how much gold Rump spins.

Humor abounds in Rump, particularly of a sort that younger readers will appreciate. Though a bit young for me, I admire what Shurtliff did for her intended audience. Of course, there are jokes about Rump’s name, but there are also lots of silly rhymes and trolls who like everything dirty. No doubt kids will be in stitches most of the time.

Red, Rump’s friend, is my favorite. She’s such a grouch, but a good friend nonetheless. In general, I enjoyed the characters, but thought a lot of the characterization stayed on a very surface level. I especially would have liked to see more done with Opal, who remains an airheaded damsel-in-distress the whole time. Sure, turning Rumpelstiltskin into the hero requires some alteration, but I thought that portrayal was needlessly cruel.

Rump is sure to be a success with younger readers. It’s a light, fun fairy tale retelling, which makes the reader reevaluate everything that happened in the original tale.

Favorite Quote:

“‘You mean she was a witch,’ I said.
‘Well, I don’t think that word means what people think it means.'”

Tl;dr – Book in a GIFfy:


4 responses to “Review: Rump”

  1. Nori says:

    I ordered this one for my library, but I haven’t read it yet. I flock to fairy tale retellings too. I like that it sounds sort of silly and that seems to mix a lot of different fairy tales into one. I’ll have to read it soon.
    Nori recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday (75)My Profile

  2. Lili says:

    This looks adorable. I ADORE fairytale retellings, so I’ll check this one out if I ever get the chance!

  3. YvonneJ says:

    One of the things I enjoyed most about the book was the way in which a number of life’s lessons (bullying, greed, friendship, personal loss, bad choices, etc.) were presented without being preachy. I loved this book and I recommend it to patrons at our library all the time.

  4. Rump has been on my radar since before its release. I also love fairytale retellings, and middle-grade fiction. I’m so glad you enjoyed this book. I’m borrowing it from the library today!
    Quinn @ Quinn’s Book Nook recently posted…Top Five Books I Wouldn’t Mind Santa Bringing MeMy Profile

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