Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Review: Rapunzel's Revenge

A Book Review of:
Image from GoodReads.com

Rapunzel's Revenge, Shannon Hale and Dean Hale
Illustrated by Nathan Hale

It's a GRAPHIC NOVEL! Woo-hoo!
Awards: American Library Association Notable Books for Children AND Young Readers' Choice Award


Rapunzel was taken from her parents by Mother Gothel when she was a baby, and Rapunzel has grown up thinking that Gothel is her real mom.  She lives inside a palace with giant walls surrounding it, and she’s not allowed to see the other side. She finally sneaks to the other side and sees that everything beyond the palace walls is dead—the land is completely barren.  And she sees thousands of workers from the mine lined up to get a drink of water. It turns out that one of them is her real mother.

When she confronts Gothel about this, she is put into a prison cell at the top of a tall magical tree. She’s there for several years and her hair grows long enough that she can finally use it as a rope to escape. She meets an outlaw named Jack who agrees to help her get back to Mother Gothel’s palace.  Along the way, Rapunzel (or Punzie as Jack likes to call her) figures out that she can do a lot more than she can be a pretty good wrangler using her hair as a lasso, and she wants to get vengeance on the woman who stole her from her mother, imprisoned her, and made everyone’s lives in the kingdom miserable.

Hale, S. & Hale, D. (2008). Rapunzel's revenge. New York, NY: Bloomsbury. 

I love the Hales' take on this classic fairy tale. It's adventurous, fun, and transforms the Rapunzel from a quiet obedient woman waiting to be rescued in her high tower to a proactive girl with high hopes for rescuing her real mother and the rest of the kingdom from Mother Gothel's evil nature. It also makes Mother Gothel an even more villainous villain because she is a dictator witch ruling over the land which she controls because of her ability to make things grow or not grow. The budding feelings between Rapunzel and Jack (of Jack and the Beanstalk tales) also show how awkward they both can be about confronting their feelings, but this also stops their feelings from taking over the plot. The artistry of the novel is very eye-catching and compliments the text well, conveying emotions and certain actions without words. It's a great way to get reluctant readers reading. Because graphic novels are considered "cooler" than regular books by many children and teens, this lends a certain appeal. It is also appealing because it's a familiar story, but it clearly has Rapunzel as a heroine, which girls will enjoy reading about. But just because it's got a female lead doesn't mean this graphic novel won't appeal to boys either! After book talking this at our library, it was clear that it was a popular choice among all teens, and having won the Young Readers' Choice Award, I'd say this backs that up. Boys will like the amount of adventure and action in the book, and the funny parts as well as the girls will. It's a great read for everyone.

Professional Reviews:

"The popular author of Princess Academy teams with her husband and illustrator Hale (no relation) for a muscular retelling of the famously long-haired heroine's story, set in a fairy-tale version of the Wild West. The Hales' Rapunzel, the narrator, lives like royalty with witchy Mother Gothel, but defies orders, scaling villa walls to see what's outside--a shocking wasteland of earth-scarring mines and smoke-billowing towers. She recognizes a mine worker from a recurrent dream: it's her birth mother, from whom she was taken as punishment for her father's theft from Mother G.'s garden. Their brief reunion sets the plot in motion. Mother G. banishes Rapunzel to a forest treehouse, checking annually for repentance, which never comes. Rapunzel uses her brick-red braids first to escape, then like Indiana Jones with his whip, to knock out the villains whom she and her new sidekick, Jack (of Beanstalk fame), encounter as they navigate hostile territory to free Rapunzel's mom from peril. Illustrator Hale's detailed, candy-colored artwork demands close viewing, as it carries the action--Rapunzel's many scrapes are nearly wordless. With its can-do heroine, witty dialogue and romantic ending, this graphic novel has something for nearly everybody."
[Review of the book Rapunzel's revenge, by S. Hale & D. Hale]. (2008, August 4). Publisher's Weekly. Retrieved from http://www.publishersweekly.com 

"This version of the classic fairy tale Rapunzel is set in the old Southwest, complete with cowboys, coal mines, and coyotes. Rapunzel is a young girl living in a fortress with Mother Gothel, an enchantress who can make plants grow at her whim. Although their home is overflowing with fruits and flowers, it is surrounded by a wall that masks the desert and coal mines outside-Gothel owns everything, and the native people depend on her good will to keep their crops growing. When Rapunzel sneaks over the wall on her twelfth birthday, she sees the desolate world over which Mother Gothel rules, and she meets her real mother who was forced to give Rapunzel to Gothel at birth. To punish her curiosity, Gothel imprisons Rapunzel inside an enchanted tree that has only one window, far above the ground. Just as in the original version, Rapunzel's hair grows prodigiously. But this girl does not need a prince to climb up and rescue her. She uses her braid as a lasso to escape the tree and goes on many adventures that lead her ultimately to reunite with her mother and find true love in a boy named Jack, whose companion is an uncooperative goose. The Hale team creates an engaging heroine. Rapunzel gallivants across the unexpected setting, meets a cast of characters both humorous and threatening, and in the end comes to inherit the land that Gothel had stripped of life and returns it to the native people. This novel presents entertaining girl power at its quirkiest."
Lehner, L. (2008, October 1). [Review of the book Rapunzel's revenge, by S. Hale & D. Hale]. Voice of Youth Advocates. Retrieved from http://www.voya.com/

Other Uses:

Writing workshops are a great way for kids and teens to show off their talents and become interested in different types of  literature. Why not doing a graphic novel writing workshop? Show off some interesting graphic novels that have become popular lately, such as Rapunzel's Revenge, and then have them brainstorm and create the hero or heroine of their own story.

Then show them how they can create their own drawings, or they can pair up in the workshop with someone to  create a graphic novel. The workshop can be only one session, or it can be multiple sessions (this would be more effective). At the end of the workshop, provide instructions for them to complete the project, or see them through to the end, and have them present their handmade graphic novels for the group to see.

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