Rapunzel, Rapunzel, Let Down Your Standards…

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This is the second retelling of Rapunzel I’ve read, and unfortunately, I just felt that it did not do the story justice. This is a dark story – an evil witch, or in this case an evil sorceress, steals a baby, and locks her in a tower cut off from the world. When she chances to find happiness anyway, that is snatched away as well… and then only by luck is there a happy ending. For all its darkness though, this story read like a Wikipedia summary. There was no feeling of danger, or fear, and the “terrifying” evil sorceress was about as scary as vanilla ice cream. I don’t think even children in the age group this is aimed at would find her scary if this was read to them… probably only if they saw her picture.

I did find it terrifying in a different, disturbing way, though. The story, being rewritten for such a young audience (ages 4-7), feels like all of the substance of the story was removed. There’s no personality. The evil sorceress is just the ugly lady who stole a baby and locked her away in a tower to punish her parents for petty theft. Rapunzel has no personality at all, is barely even a character in the story, despite being the TITLE character. She has one line, and that’s it. But she’s described as being the most beautiful girl under the sun, so who needs personality when you have your looks? They’re the only thing of value a girl has anyway, right fashion industry?

Not only is that message incredibly disturbing, but after Rapunzel is cast out, and her beloved falls from the tower and is blinded, and then Rapunzel and the prince meet again for their Happy Ever After, we hear no more about the evil sorceress… does she live, die, stay in the tower in Rapunzel’s place as other versions suggest? Is there NO punishment for the stealing and imprisonment of a child? Are children just supposed to think this is OK?

I know that this is a fairytale, but this is also a retelling aimed at young, impressionable children. And this one was very disappointing. The more I think about it, the less I like it.

The only things I DID like about this were 1)the choice to place the story in an African village setting, rather than having yet another beautiful, blonde haired white girl as the main character; and 2) the collage style artwork, which I thought was great.

So two generously given stars for this blase retelling.

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