Fairy tales touch something deep within us, and Donna Jo Napoli is a master at bringing those primal feelings to light. Her retellings of ancient tales such as The Magic Circle (based on "Hansel and Gretel"), Zel (based on "Rapunzel"), and Crazy Jack (based on "Jack and the Beanstalk") flesh out the age-old stories in unexpected ways, imbuing them with psychological resonance for contemporary teens. One of the marks of Napoli's skill is that her stories draw us into the characters' predicaments long before we figure out their original source in folklore. In Spinners, she and coauthor Richard Tchen weave a tale of a young tailor who cripples himself while spinning gold thread on a magic wheel to win his beloved's hand. Spurned for his ugliness, he watches her marry the miller and die giving birth to the child he knows is his own. The girl grows up to become a master spinner, but only when the cruel young king commands her to spin straw into gold do we begin to sense a creeping familiarity. When a deformed man demands her firstborn child as a return for spinning the gold, we are almost sure. But not until the very last, when to save her baby the young mother must guess her unknown father's secret name, do we, like her, know that this is Rumpelstiltskin, of whom we've heard tell long ago. In Napoli's story-spinning hands, however, Rumpelstiltskin is not a spiteful dwarf but a lonely outcast yearning for the love of his grandchild; rather than a hand- wringing victim, the young queen shows herself to be a strong and resourceful survivor given to imaginative solutions. (Ages 12 to 16).|
Source: Patty Campbell, Amazon.com.