Yesterday, Myra featured a powerful poem about women’s silence.

Today, I share with you a lighter albeit stronger facet of women, as we continue our bimonthly theme, Girl Power and Women’s Wiles. This is also in keeping with the kidlit community’s celebration of Women’s Month.

When I picked up Diane Stanley’s Rumpelstiltskin’s Daughter from the library, I realized how lovely it would be to talk about powerful women in fairy tales, fractured or otherwise. I bet Myra and Iphigene would agree with me that we simply cannot resist the charm of fractured fairy tales.

And so here we are yet again to join Perfect Picture Book Fridays, a blog meme hosted by Susanna Leonard Hill. I hope  you find Rumpelstiltskin’s Daughter as delightful as I did.

Rumpelstiltskin’s Daughter

Story and pictures by: Diane Stanley
Publisher: Morrow Junior Books (1997)
Genre: Fiction
Reading Level: Ages 5-8
Themes: Greed, kindness, altruism, strong-willed women, practicality

Opening:Once there was a miller’s daughter who got into a heap of trouble. It was all because her father liked to make up stories and pass them off as truth. Unfortunately, the story he told was that his daughter could spin straw into gold, which, of course, she could not. Even more unfortunately, he told this whopper in the hearing of a palace servant who rushed right off to tell the king…

Brief Synopsis: The miller’s daughter, whose name was Meredith, was sent to the castle tower after a greedy king heard the story that she could spin straw into gold. All hope was not lost for an odd little gentleman named Rumpelstiltskin showed up and offered to help her. Meredith decided to run off with and marry Rumpelstiltskin instead of the king. They lived a happy country life and were blessed with a daughter. When their daughter was old enough to go around the city, she would trade gold with coins and do a little shopping. Soon the greedy king heard about her and asked his palace guards to send for her immediately. Would she suffer the same fate as her mother?

Why I Like This Book: Diane Stanley creates a charming yet practical spin on a beloved classic by the Brothers Grimm. It takes Rumpelstiltskin to a whole new level by introducing a fourth character in the story: Hope, Rumpelstiltskin’s daughter. Readers will get a double fairy tale treat as they read the stories of Meredith and Hope.

The classic Rumpelstiltskin tale.

I like Diane Stanley’s take on women’s independent thinking. In the classic fairy tale, the miller’s daughter was portrayed as passive. She married the greedy king and almost lost her firstborn child to Rumpelstiltskin. In Diane Stanley’s version, Meredith realized that she didn’t have to put up with the king, let alone marry him. She chose good ol’ Rumpelstiltskin instead (who was also portrayed differently in this book, for he was no longer the cunning, deceitful little man as in the classic tale). She recognized that she has a choice, and marrying Rumpelstiltskin would not only save herself years of misery but also because it was a practical thing to do.

"...So Rumpelstiltskin spun a golden ladder, and they escaped out the window..."

“Okay, here’s the deal,” he said. “I will spin the straw into gold, just like before. In return, once you become queen, you must let me adopt your firstborn child. I promise I’ll be an excellent father. I know all the lullabies. I’ll read to the child every day. I’ll even coach Little League.”

“You’ve got to be kidding,” Meredith said. “I’d rather marry you… I like your ideas on parenting, you’d make a good provider, and I have a weakness for short men.”

I also like Hope’s story and how she outwitted the king. I won’t say much about her because I don’t want to give away the rest of the story. You would have to grab a copy of this book and discover for yourself. One thing that struck me just now was what Mikey told me last night: The most dangerous thing known to man is a woman. While I don’t agree with the usage of ‘thing’ and ‘woman’ in the same statement, the idea put a smile on my face.

Sixteen-year-old Hope in the presence of the greedy king.
Wheat grown from golden seeds.
Clothes made from golden wool.

Rumpelstiltskin’s Daugther is my first Diane Stanley book. Gouache, colored pencil, and collage were used in the full-color illustrations. The artworks are comical and made use of bright colors, with gold/golden yellow as the primary color used. I was particularly charmed by her comical reproductions of famous paintings such as Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, Sandro Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus, Grace Richmond’s The Whistling Mother, and self-portraits of Vincent van Gogh, Niccolo Macchiavelli, and Napoleon Bonaparte, among others.

Rumpelstiltskin’s Daughter is a wonderful addition to my (fractured) fairy tale collection. The story is well-crafted, and the illustrations are vibrant and full of zest. It’s a treat to both kids and adults.

Resources for Teachers and Students:

One of the more popular resource available online is a lesson plan for grade school economics class created by KidsEcon Posters. You may also want to check out sixth grade resources provided by McGraw-Hill. The  McGraw-Hill School Education Group divides their resources into those that provide classroom activities for teachers (teacher view) and links for online activities for parents/students (parent/student view). There are also vocabulary and spelling activities from McGraw-Hill, as featured in Oaklyn Grade 6’s website. Lastly, a rather short but also useful activity on being a good citizen is provided by the Children’s Theater, a theatrical group who created the musical for Rumpelstiltskin’s Daughter.

About the Author
(taken from the back flap of the book)

Diane Stanley was born in Abilene, Texas, into a remarkably creative and adventurous family, notable for its strong women. Perhaps that’s why the story of Rumpelstiltskin troubled her as a child. Why would that miller’s daughter marry the king who had been tormenting her all along? Before she could set things right, though, Ms. Stanley worked as a medical illustrator and as an art director for a major publishing house. She became interested in children’s books and began illustrating them when her daughters, Catherine and Tamara, were young. To find out more about her, you may visit her magical website.

1998 Storytelling World Magazine Honor Book Award
2000 South Carolina Children’s Book Award
Winner, Pennsylvania Keystone to Reading Award
AWB Reading Challenge Update: 27 of 35

Picture Book Challenge Update: 41 of 120

*Book borrowed from the Chula Vista Public Library.
*Book photos taken by me.

Fats is the Assistant Manager for Circulation Services at the Wayne County Public Library in Wooster, Ohio. She considers herself a reader of all sorts, although she needs to work on her non-fiction reading. Fats likes a good mystery but is not too fond of thrillers. She takes book hoarding seriously and enjoys collecting bookmarks and tote bags. When she is not reading, Fats likes to shop pet apparel for her cat Penny (who absolutely loathes it).

22 comments on “Perfect Picture Book: Rumpelstiltskin’s Daughter

  1. Hi Fats, what a lovely review. And I love the twist as well – marrying Rumpelstiltskin is plain ge-ni-us. 🙂 What a smart lady. It’s my first time to hear about Diane Stanley as well, I shall try to look for her books here in our library. 🙂


    • Indeed! It’s not just a retelling, but an entirely different version of the fairy tale. When I was drafting this review, I had a feeling you’d enjoy it. I plan to read more of her books because she is simply amazing. 🙂


  2. This sounds like a VERY interesting take on the familiar story. I like the fact that Rumpelstiltskin isn’t the conniving sort he’s traditionally depicted as, and that Meredith has a mind of her own. I think I’ll have to read this one! Thank you!


    • Hello Beth! Thank you for visiting. I like your emphasis on VERY, for indeed it is. I agree with you on both points. It recreates a fairy tale and actually makes it more timely in today’s society. Rumpelstiltskin’s Daughter is only one of Diane Stanley’s fractured fairy tales. I’m sure her other tales are just as fantastic. 🙂


  3. I agree, this is such a refreshing take on Rumplestilskin. I’ve seen him always as the bad guy, like in Shrek or in the Once Upon A Time TV Series. Bright orange hair, sinister smile, the crazy eyes. 🙂

    Great review! Love love fairy tale retellings. 😀


    • Thanks Tin! The funny thing is, I will always remember Rumpelstiltskin as the conniving little fiend. But because of this book, I will also be reminded that there are goodness in strangers.

      Of the fairy tale retellings, Cinderella has the most. Probably hundreds of them! 🙂


  4. This seems really interesting! I love the fractured fairy tales! I’ll have to go to my local library to find the book!
    Erik 🙂


    • Hi Erik! Glad you love fractured fairy tales as well!! If you wish to read more, we do have a Fractured Fairy Tale theme that we did last year. We also included a list of fractured fairy tales that you might want to check out. 🙂


  5. Oh, I like this a lot! Such a different take on the story. And, te illustrations are simply beautiful. Nice choice.


    • Hi Pat! Thanks a lot. I liked it, too. It wasn’t even in my list of resources for our Girl Power theme while I was searching the Internet. I found out about this when it popped up in the search results in our online catalog instead of the other Diane Stanley book that I was hoping to borrow. Glad I discovered it!! 🙂


  6. Catherine Johnson

    How delightful and what beautiful illos.


  7. I love that this is an entirely different version. What a treat! Thanks so much for adding it to the list. Bodacious choice! *waving*


    • Hello Robyn! It sure was a treat. It didn’t just re-tell a classic; it introduced other elements to it without losing the actual tale behind it. *waves back* 🙂


  8. So nice to connect with you, Fats, through Susanna’s PPBF. 🙂
    I love this book!!! I’ve always been very fond of fairy tales…and really appreciate the modern take on it…strengthen the female characters…great for our girls who need strong creative female role models. 🙂
    The resources look great…I know every parent and teacher who uses Susanna’s list will appreciate them!


    • Fats Suela

      Hello, Vivian!! So nice to meet you, too, through this lovely meme. 🙂 I agree. It reminds girls that they create their own destiny, and that they always have a voice. I was extremely happy to have discovered Diane Stanley. Have you read her other fractured fairy tales? I can’t wait to read more of her books!!

      I’m glad that these resources will be a big help to parents and educators. 🙂


  9. Rumpelstiltskin is one of my all time favorite stories, so I am really looking forward to finding this and reading it. Your list of resources is great!


    • Fats Suela

      Hi Penny! This is the first retelling of Rumpelstiltskin that I’ve read, and I’m glad that it turned out to be a really good one. I was actually surprised to find a lot of resources for this book alone. I’m sure there are more resources relating to the original fairy tale. Hope you find this book as delightful as I did. 🙂


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