Title: Rapunzel

Author(s): Paul O. Zelinsky

Illustrator/Photographer: Paul O. Zelinsky

Publisher and Year: Dutton Children’s Books, 1997

Number of pages: 33

Tags/Themes: Colleen Swanson, Fantasy, Award Book, Family, Fine Arts, K-5, 6-8

Genre:  Fantasy, Fairy Tale

Descriptive Annotation: One spring a woman became pregnant with a child. As she went through her pregnancy she began to crave the herb Rapunzel that grew in her neighbor’s garden. The neighbor was a wicked sorceress who encircled her garden with high walls. One day the woman’s husband climbed over the walls and retrieved his wife some rapunzel and the sorceress caught him. The sorceress said he may take the Rapunzel for his wife but in return he must give her the child once she is born. When the baby girl was born the sorceress took the child and raised her as her own. Then one day she took the young girl to a tower in the woods. There the girl lived for years until one day a young prince came and climbed into the tower. The two married and Rapunzel became pregnant but when the sorceress learned of the relationship she cut Rapunzel’s hair and sent her to distant land. She gave birth to twins in the distant land and eventually the prince found them.

Zelinsky creates beautiful scenes in his oil painting illustrations bringing the medieval style of the story to life. Each image seems to have a French and Italian influence and transforms the dark story into a vivid journey of colors and landscapes.

This text does not require prior knowledge to either enjoy or understand the story. Students who are experiencing this fairy tale for the first time or the hundredth time will enjoy this rendition of the classic tale. 

Linguistic and Cultural Diversity Analysis: This story does not have any linguistic diversity found within the text. In addition, there is not much cultural diversity found in the characters, each of whom are depicted at white European descent. Some cultural diversity can be seen in the oil painting illustrations relating to French and Italian architecture and art styles. The illustrations in this story will most likely be the element which generates discussions and questions from this book. 

Interdisciplinary Connections: This text can be integrated with other subject areas in elementary education. Specifically, this story can go along with a Science lesson on herbs or plants, such as rapunzel, and go along with a class project to create their own garden or grown their own herbs in class. In addition, this story can be used in a Math class to determine how long Rapunzel’s hair was in order to reach the ground from the top of the tower. Also, this text can be integrated into an Arts class studying French or Italian style art or oil painting using the illustrations as inspiration and examples.

Other Information: This is one of my favorite versions of the classic fairy tale of Rapunzel. Students of all ages would enjoy this book from early elementary through middle school. What separates this story from others is the illustrations Zelinsky has created within this book. The paintings are so intricate, vivid, and life-like that the story can easily be read through solely the pictures without any text. This is a Caldecott award winning book and it is no surprise why. After reading this book I would integrate Math and Science by having students try and determine how long Rapunzel’s hair was when she was in the tower and how long it took her to grow her hair to such an extreme length. I really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to any teacher, parent, or student.

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