One of the most fascinating tales from the Brothers' Grimm, Rumpelstiltskin is as hard to pin down as it is memorable. Paul Zelinsky's interest in the character started early, and was surely heightened when at the age of 11 he was chosen to play the role of Rumpelstiltskin in a play based on the tale, put on by his local community theater.

Zelinsky chose to paint the pictures for Rumpelstiltskin in a Renaissance style, using oil paints over watercolor underpaintings. The effect is something like the genuine Renaissance oil technique of applying colored oil glazes over a black and white tempera painting.

Paul Zelinsky's Rumpelstiltskin has enjoyed worldwide attention. It has been translated into at least twelve languages, from Faroese to Korean to Zulu.

Naming Rumpelstiltskin as one of its Ten Best Picturebooks of the year, Redbook said "Beautiful pictures capture the lushness and light of this tale's medieval landscapes, and the expressive faces of the characters make this a spellbinding treatment of a well-loved story."

BCCB said, "Zelinsky has caught the human complexity represented in fairy tales and layered it visually into an absorbing book."

In addition to winning a 1987 Caldecott Honor, Rumpelstiltskin has received numerous other awards and honors, among them the Redbook Award, Society of Illustrators and AIGA Certificates of Merit, Bratislava Biennale Selection, ALA Notable Book, SLJ Best Book, Parents' Choice Award, Book-of-the-Month Club selection, and White Raven Book selection of the International Youth Library.

It was a main feature on the television program Reading Rainbow, and is also available on videotape as an SRA iconographic video.

Teachers might like to look at these lesson plans prepared by Deborah Hallen (a.k.a. Mrs. Paul O. Zelinsky, and a teacher with long experience in the New York City Public Schools).


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