Book Review: Rapunzel and the Seven Dwarfs by Willy Claflin


Rapunzel and the Seven Dwarfs by Willy Claflin, illustrated by James Stimson

This book is a Maynard Moose tale just like The Uglified Duckling.  This fractured fairy tale takes Rapunzel and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and mixes them wildly together into quite a story.  Readers who know both stories will enjoy this most, because of the silliness of the mash up.  Here Rapunzel is a girl who has trouble keeping her long tresses clean, so a helpful witch puts her in a tower.  She is discovered by a portly knight who attempts to climb her hair, but instead due to his bulk, launches her out of the tower and into a pond.  Enter the seven dwarfs, who rescue her from the water and solver her hair issues by shaving her head bald.  Meanwhile, the witch heads to the home of the dwarfs dressed as a kindly rhinoceros (yes, you read that right) and tempts her to each poisoned watermelon.  I’ll leave the final twists of the tale for you to discover, and my there are plenty of twists!

When I first started reading this book, I tried it silently to myself.  Told by Maynard Moose, the story has some odd language twists in it and some words that are new but will make sense.  The book doesn’t work read silently.  Happily, I tried it aloud and the elements all fell into place.  If you are wondering as someone who will read it aloud how to do it, there is a CD with the book where you can hear Maynard’s voice. 

The humor here is broad and great fun.  There are particular lines that had me laughing out loud.  I enjoyed the “eight or nine seven dwarfs” and the series of misunderstandings as the prince calls out to Rapunzel to lower her hair.  It all adds to the zaniness of the story.  The writing is crafted to be read aloud, giving any reader plenty of opportunity to shine.

Stimson’s art plays along with the humor of the book.  The homemade rhino costume, the Sleeping Punzel Museum, the rotund little prince, and the issues of long hair.  The art is computer smooth and sleek.

This will read aloud well to older elementary-age children who will really enjoy the humor.  Recommended for ages 7-9, though completely appropriate for younger listeners.

Reviewed from library copy.

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