Rapunzel’s Revenge – Shannon and Dean Hale, illus. by Nathan Hale
Rapunzel has been raised in a castle-fortress by her evil, witchy mother, and mayor of the world, Gothel. When she realizes that the world beyond the castle walls is dying, and that her real mother is a slave in Gothel’s mines, she threatens to run away. Instead, she ends up locked in a towering tree. When her hair grows long enough for her to escape, she joins forces with Jack and his goose that he keeps waiting on to lay some golden eggs. They survive a series of Pecos Bill style adventures due to her ability to lasso and whip things with her 20-foot-long braid of hair. These adventures take place as they try to work their way back to Gothel’s castle to reunite with Rapunzel’s mother and free the world from Gothel’s tyranny.
This book is a librarian and a parent’s dream. Rapunzel is completely kick-ass and a true feminist hero. But it’s also a funny and engaging story that doesn’t seem as if it’s trying to teach a lesson. Jack’s not white, and neither are a lot of the characters, good guys and bad guys alike. Rapunzel is pretty, but isn’t interested in being conventionally so and she looks like Pipi Longstocking for the first half of the book. Revenge incorporates a lot of different elements of fairy tale and folklore and turns the conventions of the genres on their heads. But it also understands what is fundamentally appealing about them, and uses those elements to its advantage. There’s even a jackalope. And Jack still has one of his magic beans.
Now I’m just waiting to hear from my husband what his interest in this book is (I found it in a pile of new books on our kitchen table) and why he brought it home. Maybe he’d heard about the kick-ass teenage heroine? I know that’s one of his favorites.