Thursday, January 20, 2011

YAL Blog - "Golden" by Cameron Dokey

(I didn't think I'd actually finish this today, but I did, so here is the first installment of the YAL Blog, cross-posted from Blackboard)

Title: Golden: A Retelling of "Rapunzel"
Author: Cameron Dokey
ISBN: 1-4169-3926-1
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Children's Publishing (Imprint: Simon Pulse)
Date of Publication: June 2007
Reading Level: 12+
Genre: Fantasy/Romance
Books in Print suggested these: [Books in Print is a library cataloging database]
JUVENILE FICTION / Fantasy & Magic

These are the ones I thought of before I looked at BiP:
Folklore, Fairy Tales, Heroes, Fantasy, Family Relationships, Romance, Adoption

Plot Summary: Before Rapunzel was born, her parents make a deal with the sorceress, Melisande, when she catches Rapunzel's father in her garden.  If Rapunzel's mother cannot love the child when she is first born, the baby will go to Melisande.  When Rapunzel is born without any hair, her mother declares that she does not love her child and Rapunzel is raised by the kind sorceress.  When Rapunzel turns 16, Melisande tells her adopted daughter of Rue, Melisande's biological daughter, who was locked in a tower by an evil wizard.  Rapunzel must help Rue break the enchantment keeping Rue in tower in two days or they'll both be cursed.

Comments: This is a very solid retelling of "Rapunzel" with some surprisingly modern themes.  The idea that the sorceress in this story is actually Rapunzel's adopted mother may appeal to young adults who have been adopted or who are in foster homes.  In fact, adoption comes up again with the introduction of Harry, a boy whose parents have died and he has been raised by a traveling tinker names Mr. Jones.  Melisande's reasoning for taking Rapunzel from her parents is explained (whether or not it's to the satisfaction of the reader) is given in the fact that Melisande's power is that she can see into the hearts of others and see what people really treasure and cherish.  Rapunzel, though not Melisande's biological daughter, inherits this gift which helps her save Rue from the tower.

I quite liked the twist of making Rapunzel completely bald.  It makes for some nice character development in the story.  The townspeople don't trust Melisande and it only gets worse when Rapunzel's kerchief falls off and everyone sees she is bald and only assume that she was cursed by the sorceress.  This makes the friendship of Mr. Jones and Harry that much more important when they are finally introduced.

I did get a little lost in the middle where Melisande and Rapunzel travel to the tower where Rue has been locked away (Rue is the one with the long golden hair in this story).  Some of the mechanics of Rue's curse were a little fuzzy, so I didn't quite get what Rapunzel was trying to do when... well, I don't want to spoil the ending.

Overall, a very good read with some wonderful characterization.  This book is part of the larger "Once Upon a Time" series, so if you're looking for other classic fairy tale retellings, there are at least twenty other titles in the series (many are also written by Cameron Dokey, if you are a fan of her style).

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