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Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin

by Liesel Shurtliff
264 pages, Fantasy
Reviewed by Ariel_of_Narnia

A fun tale with great characters in a fairy-tale setting complete with some magic content.

Plot

He was born with half a name, an uncertain destiny, and a suddenly-discovered gift of an unusual nature. He has only one friend besides his Gran and the village belittles him for everything, especially his name. And on his quest to find his name and destiny, he finds himself part of an intertwining destiny involving more than just himself. This is the story of Rumpelstiltskin.

Morality

Rump is a mostly good kid. He loves his grandmother and friend Red; he recognizes his faults when he sees them and tries to amend them; he even has compassion on a character he doesn't otherwise care about.

Red proves herself a faithful friend, even if her actions don't seem particularly affectionate all the time. Gran is also a very caring lady who wants what's best for Rump. Rump meets people along the way who become his friends in one sense or another.

The people characterized by greed and general nastiness are clearly defined as wrong. One woman is often reprimanded for speaking angrily (perhaps for good reason) of another.

Spiritual Content

This is a world of fantasy, fairy tales, and magic. Pixies (gold-obsessed fairies with nasty bites) float through the pages of the book. Trolls appear a couple times - these, we find out, can smell magic. Rump comes across four witches - one he goes to for advice; the other three he went to in order to find answers about his family. The first of the four has some witchy-looking things (Rump imagines witchy things about them, but this is never confirmed), but is otherwise not particularly witch-like except for her perception and whatnot. The other three display some magical ability only as a tool to enhance their natural work (one looks a bit witch-like physically).

The book often talks about destiny, being bound to it, finding it, and all that. Names are considered part of one's destiny, resulting in physical or character elements in people.

Other fairy tales are alluded to at times.

Violence

Rump is the subject of bullies' pushing, shoving, snowball-throwing, etc. but is never really physically hurt by them. He is attacked by pixies a couple times (whose bites are notoriously painful and cause swelling). He falls from a great height, jarring him painfully, but not resulting in serious injury. He has a few other trips and falls that result in little to no injury. He is tied up a few times, caught in a snare, smacked, and threatened with a couple weapons. There is some talk of past or potential death.

Red has moments of anger which endanger a couple boys. At one point, she is bound, gagged, seen with a black eye, and receives another blow to the face.

Trolls set themselves up as man-eaters to protect themselves. There is talk of a poison apple and a tree that sprouted from the seeds of its core.

Drug and Alcohol Content

A cook remembers her now-adult son once trying wine, which he never did again.

Sexual Content

Rump comments on one woman's beauty but is quite clear that he does look at her "that way".

Crude or Profane Language or Content

Due to the nature of Rump's partial name, he's often the object of jokes involving his namesake. He nicknames the king "King Barf" for simplicity's sake. Gnomes - who function as messengers - also mess up the king's name (quite by accident), resulting in more "King Barf" declarations.

Conclusion

This was an entertaining read filled with great characters, a fun adventure with its fair share of perils, and a few good lessons in friendship, courage, compassion. An element of inner conflict adds to the character of Rump. A bunch of the things said about destiny and one's future I thought were pretty good, though I'd say that destiny is as central to this story as fate is to Disney/Pixar's "Brave", but not as mystical. This and the presence of "good witches" may give some parents pause.

Fun Score: 5
Values Score: 4.5
Written for Age: 11-12

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