An illustrated retelling of the fairy tale, based not on Grimm's classic version but upon a 17th-century French tale. This version of "Rapunzel" tells the story of a mother who strongly resists her child's inevitable growth.
As with her artwork for The Emperor's New Clothes, Duntze's fanciful illustrations add enchanting new dimensions to this well-loved tale. A wordless spread of the witch's glorious garden makes manifest the compulsion by her pregnant neighbor to secure its contents-though she will come to rue the price (her baby, Rapunzel). The witch, meanwhile, looks human from the waist up, with beefy bare arms and white hair pulled back in unusual buns, but her dress is fashioned from large cabbage leaves, home to slugs, snails and a frog, and partly concealing long, snake-like tentacles. Duntze plays with dimensions to create a sense of fairyland enchantment. Huge human teeth crown the walls around the witch's garden, while inside (obscured from the neighbors' view), dandelion weeds loom large. Layers of gold and rust-colored carpets give Rapunzel's lonely tower cell a cozy feel, as do the yellow pear on which she sits, the enormous snail that serves as her bed, and the stuffed animals that keep her company. The bleak wilderness into which the witch banishes Rapunzel (after learning of the prince's visits) markedly contrasts with the opulence of previous settings, emphasizing the witch's cruelty. In the final scene, the prince returns with Rapunzel and their children to his kingdom, which Duntze portrays as a formal garden set under towering strawberry plants, bringing the visual theme full circle. The arresting art abounds with sensuality and charm, making this version a welcome reimagining of a classic tale. Ages 4-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.