Crossreferencing is one year old today! Thanks to you and thanks to our growing crowd of readers for making it possible and fun.
Today’s topic: random thoughts generated by books I have read recently.
First, I read Rump, by Liesl Shurtliff. It’s a retelling of Rumpelstiltskin. We’ve had several discussions about retellings and adaptations and we both enjoy them, for the most part. This was no exception. But it got me thinking about what it is that makes particular tale especially good for retelling and adaptation.
I have read several retellings of Rumpelstiltskin in recent years, notably: A Curse Dark as Gold, by Elizabeth Bunce; The Witch’s Boy, by Michael Gruber; and The Rumpelstiltskin Problem, by Vivian Vande Velde. I think the thing that makes Rumpelstiltskin ripe for retelling is that the supposed protagonist of the tale, the miller’s daughter, is such an unappealing character. She’s a whiner, she’s lazy, she’s entitled, and–for crying out loud–she agrees to give away her child for the sake of some gold! So it’s very easy, and intriguing, to do as Shurtliff does, and turn Rumpelstiltskin into the hero instead of the villain.
Just a quick note on the book: Shurtliff has a great, breezy style. There are just enough (and not too many) “rump” jokes to appeal to kids, and she has created an interesting world in which other stories can be (and will be, as I understand) set.
My second random observation is about Jaclyn Moriarty’s A Corner of White, which we have both mentioned before: here and here. I really liked the book, for a lot of reasons. I loved the way Madeleine critiqued Elliot’s description of his own world. I liked the way the “real” world and the “fantasy” world bled into each other. (I thought it was great that Madeleine’s England had “colours” while Elliot’s Cello had “colors.”) And it wasn’t only that the fantasy world entered the real world, but that each affected the other. In particular, I loved the ending, in which the real science of color (or should I say colour?) and light solved the problem in the fantasy world. How many books have we read in which it is the magic from the fantasy world that heals someone or solves the problem in the real world? Nice flip-flop here!
And by the way: I totally agree that this is an atrocious cover. For one thing, how many boys are ever going to pick this book up? And it’s really a shame, because I think the humor and the snarkiness and the cleverness and the science would appeal to lots of boys. This one is ripe for a coverflip. How about just a street with a parking meter that has a tiny corner of white paper sticking out the edge of it?
And final random thought: I just read two new books by Cory Doctorow: Homeland, the sequel to Little Brother, and Pirate Cinema. I enjoyed them both, although I thought Homeland was a little heavy on the exposition. (On the other hand, since I’m not an expert in all things computer, I found that the exposition was often needed for me to understand the plot, so there’s that.) I agree with my friend Sarajo’s reaction to Homeland: I’m definitely never going to go to Burning Man, and I’m starting to think I should remove the battery from my phone! The real-world NSA goings-on are a little too close to the story of Homeland for comfort. I listened to the audio version of Pirate Cinema, which I thought was terrific. Doctorow really knows how to tell a great, fast-paced story that gets to some serious issues about copyright, digital rights management, and creativity.
Time to get back to my reading!