Thursday, April 17, 2014

Straw into Gold - Gary D. Schmidt

Summary:  What fills a hand fuller than a skein of gold? By order of the king, two boys, Tousle and Innes, must find the answer to this puzzling riddle within seven days or be killed. A former nursemaid to the queen’s child tells the boys that the banished queen may have the answer they seek. Danger presents itself at every turn, for the boys are pursued by the Great Barons, who are secretly plotting against the king. Another pursuer, the greedy King’s Grip, reveals a strange story of a little man who once spun straw into gold of incredible beauty for the queen but then disappeared with her firstborn son. Tousle realizes that the man he calls Da is the strange little man and, even more amazing, that he himself may be the lost prince. Or could it be Innes, who although cruelly blinded can hear the music of the dawn?
This skillful blend of fantasy and adventure reveals what might have happened before the queen makes her third and last guess and the story of Rumpelstiltskin—as we know it—ends. (Image and Summary from

My Review:  Tousle has lived in the meadow surrounded by forest as long as he can remember.  His Da, a funny little man who seems to have a bit of magic about him, has always been protective and more than a little enigmatic about Tousle's past.  However, as Da says, that which has already been woven is about to pass.  Within minutes of first arriving in the capitol city, Tousle's life, and the lives of numerous "rebels", are at risk.  Worse, Da has disappeared.

Gary D. Schmidt puts his unique telling on a fairy tale we all know and does a masterful job recreating Rumplestiltskin's story to be one of love, protection, and redemption.  This is a short book - under 200 pages - and I didn't want to put it down.  The relationships that the characters develop, the riddles and puzzles and intrigue from multiple sources, the perfect reimagining of Rumplestiltskin's character, I fell in love with the story all over again.  The way that Schmidt crafts his story kept me guessing--not an easy thing to do.

Schmidt is rapidly becoming one of my favorite authors.  He has a wonderful way with words and such an optimistic way of telling a real story.  This is definitely a story I could hand my eight year, or a reluctant reader, and know they'd be enthralled.

My Rating:  Five stars

For the Sensitive Reader:  This is an incredible story, but Schmidt realizes that not everyone is good.  There are a few battle scenes.  Both boys are shot by either an arrow or a javelin at one point.

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