This is fun fantasy that retells and provides a new backstory for the age-old Rumpelstiltskin fairy tale. I appreciate the author’s leap of faith as she takes on an unloved trollish character as her main character. I found myself compelled to keep reading as Rump’s story unfolded, and, despite several mistakes and wrong turns, Rump had my sympathy as a reader. His mother died just as he was born, before she could even finish saying his full name, and so he became Rump, truly the butt of all jokes in his village. It’s especially rough when everyone in your kingdom believes that your name is your Destiny. Luckily, Rump does have one friend, Red, who tries to help him out. And yes, he can spin straw into gold. The problem with magic is that “all magic has consequences.” Rump has to learn this the hard way. Kids who love fantasy worlds that incorporate pieces of folklore will enjoy the wild rumpus that ensues as Rump runs into feisty, biting pixies, disgusting trolls, extremely greedy men and three witches (who turn out to be his aunts) on his journey to find his real name…and his true destiny.
I liked the author’s note at the end of the book where she relects on her own “strange” name that no one could pronounce or spell, and that never was found on “those personalized pencils and key chains in gift shops.” As a Jennifer, I see the name Liesl and think it is beautiful and magical. It’s all about perspective, and that is a strong theme in Rump. Readers who enjoy this story might also want to try Gregory Maguire’s children’s books Leaping Beauty and What the Dickens: The Story of a Rogue Tooth Fairy.
-Reviewed by Jennifer