Tuesday, August 7, 2012

"Rapunzel's Revenge" by Shannon and Dean Hale, Illustrated by Nathan Hale (no relation)

Hale, Shannon, and Dean Hale. Rapunzel's revenge. Illus. Nathan Hale. New York, N.Y.: Bloomsbury, 2008. Print. 144 pp. ISBN 10: 1599902885


Rapunzel grows up surrounded by luxury – her mother, the powerful growth witch Mother Gothel – provides for her every need. There’s just one problem; Mother Gothel won’t tell Rapunzel what’s on the other side of the very very high wall surrounding Mother Gothel’s compound. One day, Rapunzel decides to climb as high as she can to try to see over the wall. When she does, she receives quite a shock. The land all around the compound is horribly dry, and is being mined by slave labor. But worst of all, Rapunzel comes face to face with her real mother! Mother Gothel stole Rapunzel as a baby as punishment for her real mother’s theft of rapunzel (lettuce) while she was pregnant!

Disgusted by Rapunzel’s willfulness, Mother Gothel orders Rapunzel to be locked up in a tall (tree) tower deep in the forest. Mother Gothel comes to her once a year to see if Rapunzel has repented; each year, she leaves disappointed.

The tree provides for all of Rapunzel’s needs and seems to grow extraordinarily fast. The magic is so strong that Rapunzel’s hair also grows quickly – and very long! After several years, Rapunzel’s hair is so long that she learns how to use it as a lasso, and then proceeds to use it to make her escape.

Not long after escaping, Rapunzel meets Jack, an admitted thief and bandit. Circumstances throw them together, and they decide to partner up – Rapunzel to go back and rescue her real mother, Jack to make his fortune so he can buy his mother a house. In the process, Mother Gothel puts a bounty on Rapunzel’s head, and Jack is always getting into scrapes from which Rapunzel must rescue him.

Will they succeed? Will Mother Gothel capture Rapunzel? Will they get out of each new predicament in which they find themselves? Just how many different characters from other fairy tales will they encounter?


 I was going to say this is a very good book for young girls to read, but then I decided it doesn't hurt for boys to read about a strong female lead, either. Rapunzel does not wait for Prince Charming to come rescue her. Instead, she rescues herself – over and over and over again! Jack is confident and sure as Rapunzel’s sidekick, and with the exception of a few frames here and there, seems content for her to take the lead. The situations are hilarious, and the illustrations by Nathan Hale are colorful and alive. I especially like the fact that the characters in the book are so multicultural. Unlike many other books for children, there is a wide range of ethnicities represented and all are treated with dignity. There are no “cheap jokes” using a character’s ethnicity for comic relief. Furthermore, women and men are presented as being equally capable.

The only issue I have with the book is the fact that the silly situations seemed to drag on. I felt as though the book could have ended and been wrapped up much sooner than it was without any detriment to the plotline. At one point, I wondered if they had been given a particular number of pages to fill and were stretching things out to meet their quota. However, young adults will probably not feel this way and remain entranced to the end with its wonderful resolution.


ALA Notable Children's Book (ALA)

Amelia Bloomer Project Selection (ALA)

An Al Roker Today Show Book Club Pick

An IndieBound Next Pick

Cybils Award (Graphic Novels)

Great Graphic Novels for Teens (YALSA)

Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults (YALSA)

Texas Maverick Graphic Novel List

Utah Book Award

Young Hoosier Book Award Nominee

Teaching Extensions:

Have students read Rapunzel’s Revenge and the original version of the Grimm’s fairy tale (if the school will allow it), then a “watered down” more modern version of the story, such as the award-winning Rapunzel by Paul O. Zelinsky. Have students compare the different elements that make the stories so different. How do the different settings contribute to the plot? What elements are similar? How do the different styles of illustrations in the two modern versions make the stories different? Which illustrations do they like better? Why? Which one do they like best and why? The main point of this exercise is to get students thinking about and discussing the ways different story elements and plot twists contribute to make a story with the same root so completely different. To further extend the exercise, allow students to pick other fairy tales and put their own twists on the. Allow students to work in groups and brainstorm different plot elements. The stories may be in traditional or graphic novel format, but they must have illustrations. For those students who are not artistically inclined, arrange for them to be able to use the computer lab and introduce them to the computer program ToonDoo (www.toondoo.com). It allows students to create comics or classic illustrations using stock elements. They can then print out their comics/illustrations.


Grimm, Jacob, and Wilhelm Grimm. The Annotated Brothers Grimm. 1. ed. New York: Norton, 2004. Print. 416 pp.

Hale, Shannon, and Dean Hale. Rapunzel's Revenge. Illus. Nathan Hale. New York, N.Y.: Bloomsbury, 2008. Print. 144 pp.

Zelinsky, Paul O., Jacob Grimm, and Wilhelm Grimm. Rapunzel. Weston, Conn.: Weston Woods Studios, 2002. Print. 48 pp.

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