Rapunzel (An Owlet Book)

by Jacob Grimm

Other authorsAlix Berenzy (Author)
Paperback, 1998



Local notes

398.2 Gri




Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) (1998), Paperback, 32 pages


A retelling of the German folktale in which a beautiful girl with long golden hair is kept imprisoned in a lonely tower by a witch.

Original publication date


Physical description

32 p.; 10.96 inches

User reviews

LibraryThing member ncgraham
I have two picture books of the classic fairy tale “Rapunzel” in my library: Paul Zelinsky’s 1998 Caldecott winner, and lesser-known effort from Alix Berenzy. Of the two, Zelinsky wins out for both his sumptuous illustrations and his interesting textual research, but Berenzy’s is worth
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reading as well, especially if you love “Rapunzel” as much as I do. The most interesting thing about this book is the artistic medium she uses: colored pencil and watercolor on a black canvas. The black canvas makes the shades shadows on each page (and, by extension, the light) all the more striking; I only wish she had used this technique for all it’s worth by reveling in the bleakness of the story. This could have been a very moody Rapunzel indeed, a dark tale touched with occasional spots of glorious sunshine.

One illustration in the book really sticks out to me as coming close to this ambition: a two-page spread of Rapunzel abandoned in the rocky desert, with Mother Gothel hurrying away as a storm begins to break overhead. The text reads simply, “Rapunzel cried in fear as the flowers fell from her hair.” This combination—textual understatement paired with emotionally turbulent visuals—is an evocative picture of what Berenzy might have given us.
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LibraryThing member AbigailAdams26
When an expectant mother spies the rapunzel growing in her neighbor's garden, her longing for the herb is so strong, that she becomes ill. Finally, in desperation, her husband steals into the garden to fetch her some of the plant, only to be caught by the powerful fairy owner, who demands their
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unborn child as payment. And so Mother Gothel comes to possess a beautiful girl-child, whom she names Rapunzel, and whom, from the age of twelve, she imprisons in a high tower in the forest...

According to the comments on the front dust-jacket flap, this version of the classic fairy-tale is taken from a German source predating the Brothers Grimm, although that source is never named. Could this be a reference to the Rapunzel of J.C.F. Schulz, a 1790 translation of the French Persinette, itself a translation of Giambattista Basile's Petrosinella? It's difficult to say, but however that may be, this version is so close to the Grimms - with the fairy/witch being named Mother Gothel, and the inclusion of the final episode, in which Rapunzel and her prince wander in the wilderness - that it will make little difference to the non-scholar.

Although the Neapolitan Petrosinella has always been my favorite of this tale-type, I have a soft spot in my heart for the German variant, and this retelling - with its engaging narrative and gorgeous artwork - ranks with the Paul Zelinsky edition, as one of my favorite Rapunzels. The illustrations, done in colored pencil and gouache on black paper, are intensely expressive. The reader can almost taste the rapunzel, in the painting of the mother savoring her herb salad, or feel the warmth of the fire and the coolness of the night air, in the two-page spread showing Rapunzel in her tower. Truly, a lovely edition of a beloved story - fairy-tale fans will not want to miss this one!
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LibraryThing member SadieReads
This retelling of the traditional German story is very well done. It is based on the original story, predating the Brothers Grimm version. The language is pretty, yet simple. Together with beautiful, vivid illustrations, it makes a great read-aloud of the classic story for children.

As with most
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fairy tales, the character roles are easily defined: the flawed, weak parents, the evil fairy (witch), the handsome and faithful prince, and the beautiful, virtuous heroine. The parents give up Rapunzel in order to pay the evil fairy for the rapunzel plant the mother craved. The evil fairy, covetous of Rapunzel's beauty, locked her up in a tower to keep her hidden. Rapunzel attracts the handsome prince with her beautiful sining voice. The prince climbs up her hair to the tower and the two plan Rapunzel's escape. When the evil fairy learns of the plan, she banishes Rapunzel to a barren desert. The prince, fearing the power of the fairy, jumps out of the tower and into a rosebush, blinding himself. The love between Rapunzel and the prince perseveres when they are united years later. Love, virtue, and bravery triumph.
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(9 ratings; 4.1)
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