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THE GIRL WHO SPUN GOLD by Virginia Hamilton


by Virginia Hamilton & illustrated by Diane Dillon & Leo Dillon

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-590-47378-6
Publisher: Blue Sky/Scholastic

Hamilton (Bluish, 1999, etc.) turns her elegant style to a West Indian–based version of the Rumpelstiltskin story. Out riding, Big King spies Quashiba, who, her mother told him, could spin a whole field of gold cloth. Taken by her beauty and her mother’s boasting, he marries her—and after a year and a day locks her in a room to spin. Lit’mahn Bittyun, a horrid little creature with a long tail, a wooden leg, and sharp teeth, appears and promises to aid her for three nights. If she cannot guess his name after the third, he will turn her into a tiny, hideous being like himself. Quashiba grows angry with Big King for using her so ill, but on the second night, when they dine together, he tells of overhearing a funny little man singing his true name. Thus Quashiba bests Lit’mahn, who explodes “in a million bitty flecks of gold.” (It’s three years, though, before she forgives Big King.) The Dillons (To Every Thing There Is a Season, 1998, etc.) have taken their hieratic and magical style to new heights here, overlaying pattern after pattern of cloth, drapery, and architectural detail. Burnished color is lavishly overlaid with gold, heightening visual intensity to a fever pitch. The nasty little man is particularly effective, limned as carefully as a poisoned jewel box. (Picture book/fairy tale. 5-9)