This was just one of those books. It’s the book that you see on multiple lists, New York Best Sellers, Amazon, Barnes and Noble. It’s the book that all your friends are reading. It’s the book you see in connection with all the other books you are reading. However, for some strange reason it just sits on your shelf. This book had been purchased and just rested on my “to be read” list for ages. It wasn’t that I wasn’t interested, it just kept getting pushed out of the way. I really enjoy fractured fairy tales, but I wasn’t overly familiar with the original Rumpelstiltskin story, so maybe that’s why I kept overlooking it. I finally got around to reading it and was so glad I did!
Why I Finished It:
The first sentence, “My mother named me after a cow’s rear end” sort of sets up the entire story! This quick humor is dispersed throughout the book and will surely put a smile on your face. I’m still not entirely knowledgeable about the original Rumpelstiltskin, but I thoroughly enjoyed this story. It’s a fairly easy read that is packed with adventure and an endearing main character. Rump is easily relatable even though many of the events in the story are magical. Once I realized I didn’t have to know the original story, I couldn’t put the story down.
Who I Would Give It To:
Honestly, this is a great upper elementary read. The story will engage the young and old, but the text is simple enough for upper elementary to read independently. This is a must for any fairy tale unit!
Author’s Website and Characterization
How great is this author’s website? It has a special area for educators. This area has a quiz for students to take to see which character they are most similar to! How fun. Who are you? I am apparently Nothing, which made me question this quiz a little! This is a great opportunity to discuss characterization. Each character in this story had distinct personalities. Students could chart different events and what type of characterization was evident through their actions. If you are reading the story aloud, stop after a poignant moment for one of the characters. Have students visualize what was just read (they can just shut their eyes and imagine or do a quick sketch) and then have them discuss in groups a character trait that was shown through actions. Make sure they are using text evidence. Since this is really a hero’s journey, you could also use this graphic organizer from Read Write Think. The students could also do the online interactive character map here. On a side note, having the students make a quiz similar to the author’s quiz after reading a different novel is a great follow up activity that demonstrates knowledge of the characters!
I was able to read the story with limited knowledge of the original fairy tale. At the end, the author provides a little bit more information about Rumpelstiltskin, but here is a link to the Brother’s Grimm story. Students could read this version before or after reading Rump and compare the two. Discuss how the author changed or altered the original story. Make a Venn Diagram foldable as seen on a previous post.
The idea of your name creating your destiny is woven throughout the story. Before even beginning this story, have students research their own name. Type your name into WolframAlpha’s computational knowledge engine to get some interesting statistics, and here are some other ideas from a previous post. Ask students if they feel their name will create their destiny or their name melds to their destiny. Check out this article on the topic. As students read, have them decide how Rump’s destiny is changing. Is his name in power or is it psychosomatic?
Take this time to discuss fairy tales. Here is a list of common attributes of fairy tales. Have students brainstorm what they already know about fairy tales to help create your own class list of fairy tale characteristics. As students read Rump have them provide text evidence when they see these characteristics. What makes this a fairy tale? Students should also look for the ‘magic helper’ and find evidence of ‘the rule of 3’.