By Shannon Hale
Cover image retrieved from
Hale, Shannon. 2008. RAPUNZEL’S REVENGE. Bloomsbury USA. New York. ISBN-13: 9781599902883
Rapunzel grows up with the woman she believes to be her mother, Mother Gothel, in a castle locked away from the outside world. She dreams of a family she used to know, and finds out that her real mother lives a harsh life in a village just outside the castle. Mother Gothel locks her in a tree tower to keep her away from the village, but Rapunzel escapes by using her incredibly long, strong hair. Rapunzel goes on an adventure with Jack, of the Beanstalk fame, and manages to rescue her mother from the mines and set things straight that Mother Gothel had once soured.
Rapunzel’s Revengeis a whole new take on the classic fairy tale. The basic fairy tale elements are present: an evil mother figure, magical incantations to change the course of things, a downtrodden daughter, a handsome “prince” who comes along to save her. In this fractured version, Rapunzel is a bit more dynamic, with plenty of attitude to spice up the tale. Jack, her handsome “prince”, is borrowed from the Jack and the Beanstalk tale, in typical fractured fairy tale fashion. The evil mother figure, Mother Gothel, wields her magic to control her surroundings and Rapunzel. The basic theme of good triumphing over evil prevails. The setting includes an unexpected ride through the Wild West, amusing the reader with a twist to tradition.
The graphic novel format allows a different way for the attitude of the characters to emerge. Conversation bubbles and text boxes share the inner feelings and thoughts of Rapunzel, allowing her disgust, dismay, anxiety, and inner strength to be clearly communicated to the reader. The plot is quick, lively, and original, combining aspects from other tales and creating a whole new storyline of adventure and intrigue. The reader has no idea what to expect, keeping interest high. The story moves along well, with plenty of twists and turns along the way. As a fractured fairy tale, the reader assumes the story will resolve nicely at the end, but must read to the finish to see how it turns out.
Fans of graphic novels or fractured tales will find a treat here. As a newbie to the graphic novel world, I was intrigued by the clarity of the attitudes of the characters. This format permits the author to build strong personalities in a small amount of space and time. The realistic feel of this fantasy piques the reader’s interest start to finish. Readers of all ages will find a wonderful step into the graphic novel structure.
Book Reviews and Excerpts
This is the tale as you've never seen it before. The dialogue is witty, the story is an enticing departure from the original, and the illustrations are magically fun and expressive. Knowing that there are more graphic novels to come from this writing team brings readers their own happily-ever-after. School Library Journal Starred Review
This graphic novel retelling of the fairy-tale classic, set in a swashbuckling Wild West, puts action first and features some serious girl power in its spunky and strong heroine. Rich with humor and excitement, this is an alternate version of a classic that will become a fast favorite of young readers. Booklist
Awards and Honors
Amelia Bloomer List, 2010 ; ALA Social Responsibilities Round Table (SRRT); United States
Booklist Top 10 Graphic Novels for Youth, 2009 ; Booklist; United States
Children’s Catalog Supplement to Nineteenth Edition, 2009 ; H. W. Wilson Company; United States
Choices, 2009 ; Cooperative Children’s Book Center; United States
Notable Children’s Books, 2009 ; ALSC American Library Association; United States
Publishers Weekly Book Review Stars, August 4, 2008 ; Cahners; United States
School Library Journal Book Review Stars, September 2008 ; Cahners; United States
Cybil Award, 2008 Winner Graphic Novels (Elementary/Middle Grade) United States
Young Reader’s Choice Award, 2011 Winner Intermediate United States
Dorothy Canfield Fisher Children’s Book Award, 2009-2010 ; Master List; Vermont
Isinglass Teen Read Award, 2010-2011 ; Nominee; New Hampshire
Voice of Youth Award, 2009-2010 ; Nominee; 5th and 6th Grade; Illinois United States
· Pair this graphic novel with other fractured fairy tales, such as The Mirror’s Tale by Paul Catanese, The Fairy’s Return by Gail Carson Levine, Straw Into Gold by Gary D. Schmidt, or Bigfoot Cinderrrrrella by Tony Johnston. Brainstorm elements in all of these fractured fairy tales that set them apart from the traditional tales.
· Create an illustrated Venn diagrams comparing/contrasting Rapunzel’s Revenge with the traditional tale. Use a Wild West symbol on one side to list the elements particular to Rapunzel’s Revenge, a fairy tale book to represent the traditional tale, and Rapunzel’s famous long hair in the middle to show the shared qualities of these stories.
· Create your own graphic novel. Either take a traditional fairy tale, a fractured fairy tale, or a traditional picture book to retell in graphic format. Be sure to include lots of attitude in the conversation bullets and text boxes!
· Visit author Shannon Hale’s website at http://www.squeetus.com/stage/books.html for background information and lots of fun activities related to the book.
Other books by Shannon Hale:
The Actor & the Housewife
Book of a Thousand Days
The Goose Girl