Best-loved Classics: Rapunzel by Sarah Gibb

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Best-loved Classics: Rapunzel by Sarah Gibb

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Category: For Sharing
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Ruth Ng
Reviewed by Ruth Ng
Summary: Absolutely gorgeous artwork makes this story a joy to read every time my daughter asks. Perfect for princess-loving little girls!
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 32 Date: September 2011
Publisher: Harper Collins Children's Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0007364800

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Educators are, apparently, concerned at the moment at the number of children starting school who don't know any of the old traditional fairy tales, so it's nice to see a new version of Rapunzel that is based on the original story by The Brothers Grimm. This is a lovely book to share and stays closer to the original story than Disney's 'Tangled' film.

The story, in case you've forgotten, is of a couple who struggle to have children and then when the wife finally falls pregnant she is very ill and needs to eat some of the food growing in the garden next door in order to get well. Unfortunately the garden is owned by a witch, and she says in return for the vegetables the new born baby will belong to her. When the child is born the witch takes her away and locks her in a tall, tall tower, far away in the forest where Rapunzel is happy for a while but then begins to grow bored. The only way for the witch to get in and out of the tower is by using Rapunzel's long hair as a rope to climb up the tower, and of course it is this cry of 'Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your golden hair!' that the Prince overhears one day and tries for himself. When the witch finds out about his visits she cuts off Rapunzel's hair and banishes her to the forest to die, and when the Prince comes to visit she pushes him from the tower and he is blinded by his fall, wandering through the forest trying to find his lost love. Don't worry though, it has a happy ending!

I knew my little girl would like this book, but I was surprised by how much I've taken to it. It's gorgeous to look at - the cover is beautifully drawn, showing Rapunzel along with some of her forest friends, and with smatterings of shiny pink foil inlaid into the cover and flashing as the light catches it, it just begs to be picked up. The beautiful drawings continue within. Sarah Gibb's artwork is stunning. There isn't one page that I don't like, and I love how she uses both daintily drawn, detailed pictures as well as lovely silhouettes that look like paper cut-outs. Rapunzel's tower is depicted in true fairytale style, with turrets and vines and roses and weathervanes. I also love that Prince's arrival in the forest is marked by a two page spread of him riding his horse through the trees, with no text at all. Wonderful!

There's lots of pink, and it's all very girly but I didn't find it nauseating, which can happen sometimes! The colours are lovely, pastel shades and the silhouette images contrast well with these. I also liked that you never actually see the witch in colour, only as a shadow, and so the images of her become quite atmospheric and she seems more menacing for not having her features clearly defined.

The story itself is well told, and hasn't been simplified. Older, patient pre-school children should manage to sit through it, and those in the early years of school will love to listen and then perhaps have a go at reading it by themselves when they get older. The story, like the pictures, is detailed too and so it bears re-reading well. I expect some little boys might be put off by all the pink, but for little girls it's simply a lovely book to share and would make a beautiful gift.

For more traditional tales, take a look at our top ten list Top Ten Retellings of Myths, Legends and Fairy Tales

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Buy Best-loved Classics: Rapunzel by Sarah Gibb at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Best-loved Classics: Rapunzel by Sarah Gibb at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Best-loved Classics: Rapunzel by Sarah Gibb at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Best-loved Classics: Rapunzel by Sarah Gibb at


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