Illustrator: Paul O. Zelinsky
This classic tale, adapted from the German of the Brothers Grimm, was one of my favorites when I was a child. Not only is it exquisitely illustrated, but the story itself is suspenseful, exciting and a little bit creepy.
At the heart of the story we have a miller’s daughter, who has been ordered to spin straw into gold for the king. There’s one tiny problem, though—she has no idea how to do such a thing. Luckily for her, Rumpelstiltskin comes to her rescue on three successive nights, spinning the straw into piles of gleaming gold spools in return for her most prized possessions—one of which is her future hypothetical first child. (Why he wants this child, I have no idea. But it’s fun to wonder…)
After marrying the king and giving birth to her child, the queen is dismayed when Rumpelstiltskin appears out of nowhere, demanding what she promised him. The queen begs Rumpelstiltskin not to take her infant son, and finally, he relents—but only if she can guess the little man’s unusual name. (When I was a kid I got a real kick out of the crazy names that the woman throws out there.)
The illustrations are large and beautifully detailed, and the story is wonderful. This is a great Grimms’ fairy tale to share with kids who might not be so fond of princess stories!