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Just like Mass’s retelling of Sleeping Beauty, this is told from alternating viewpoints. In one chapter we meet Rapunzel, snatched away from her parents on her birthday. The next introduces us to tall, uncoordinated, chess-playing Prince Benjamin. I actually preferred this to Sleeping Beauty. Rapunzel’s imprisonment helps her become a better person and Benjamin remains his same slightly awkwardly cute self throughout. Not even rescuing his lady fair makes him into a strong macho knight. Again, this wasn’t the most compelling or fascinating book I’ve read, but the story was cute enough. I particularly like the way the love story is managed. For her part, it is the very first time Rapunzel has thought a boy was cute. Benjamin watches his three-year old sister’s marriage be arranged and knows that at 13 the same fate awaits him. The end result of his meeting Rapunzel is a hug, and permission to marry whom he chooses when the time comes. It’s just wonderfully age appropriate. Another added bonus involves the basic telling of Rapunzel. If you’re familiar with the story, you’ll know that essentially, Rapunzel is owed to the witch because her mother craved rampion (or insert name of vegetable/weed here) so strongly during pregnancy that she (stole/brokered a deal with the witch). This essentially lays the blame for Rapunzel’s imprisonment with her mother. In Mass’s version, Rapunzel realizes that her mother would never act to endanger her and that clearly she must have been bewitched. It’s a simple change that removes the culpability from the mother.
Because of the complete innocence of the romance and the simplicity of the retelling, I’d recommend this for Grades 3-4.
Great for: Fans of Tangled who want more Rapunzel stories.
Sex, Nudity, Dating – Rapunzel’s birth is mentioned. People are married at 12 or 13. The prince’s parents appear to be discussing a betrothal for his 3 year old sister. The prince’s cousin becomes engaged. The prince becomes engaged. There is a hug. A girl likes a boy.
Profanity – “darn,”
Death, Violence and Gore – Rapunzel laments that she’ll never be rescued and blackbirds will come pick her bones clean. Rapunzel tells the witch that she’ll face the hangman’s noose. The prince is treated with leeches (which suck his blood) after an injury. Animals are hunted. They plot to kill a troll. The witch and the prince fight.
Drugs, Alcohol and Smoking – Lords and ladies drink ale and brandy. The cook sleeps off six cups of ale. A hermit offers ale to the boys but then reconsiders saying they aren’t of age. At one point someone asks “Have you drunk too much ale?” to mean “Are you crazy?” The hermit smokes a pipe.
Frightening or Intense Things – A witch comes and take Rapunzel from her home.