Age Range: 8 - 10
Exquisite paintings in late Italian Renaissance style illumine this hybrid version of a classic tale. As Zelinsky (The Wheels on the Bus, 1990, etc.) explains in a long source note, the story's Italian oral progenitor went through a series of literary revisions and translations before the Brothers Grimm published their own take; he draws on many of these to create a formal, spare text that is more about the undercurrents between characters than crime and punishment. Feeling "her dress growing tight around her waist" a woman conceives the desire for an herb from the neighboring garden--rendered in fine detail with low clipped hedges, elaborate statuary and even a wandering pangolin--that causes her to lose her child to a witch. Ensconced for years in a tower, young Rapunzel meets the prince, "marries" him immediately, is cast into the wilderness when her own dress begins to tighten, gives birth to twins, and cures her husband's blindness with her tears at their long-awaited reunion. Suffused with golden light, Zelinsky's landscapes and indoor scenes are grandly evocative, composed and executed with superb technical and emotional command.