MMGM: RUMP by Liesl Shurtliff

It’s particularly appropriate for me to cover Liesl Shurtliff’s RUMP: THE TRUE STORY OF RUMPELSTILTSKIN this week for MMGM. Why, you might ask? Because I was first introduced to Liesl through The Writer’s Voice contest, which is happening this week. My coach, Krista Van Dolzer, is one of Liesl’s critique partners (her name’s in the acknowledgments!), and after the contest, Krista assigned each of her team members a published/pre-published author to critique our query and first page. Liesl was my assigned author, and I so appreciated her comments. I’ve been anxiously awaiting this book for a year, and I’m so excited to feature it today!

To kick this off, here’s the description:

Rump by Liesl ShurtliffIn a magical kingdom where your name is your destiny, twelve-year-old Rump is the butt of everyone’s joke.

Rump has never known his full name–his mother died before she could tell him. So all his life he’s been teased and bullied for his half-a-name. But when he finds an old spinning wheel, his luck seems to change. For Rump discovers he can spin straw into gold. Magical gold.

His best friend, Red, warns him that magic is dangerous–and she’s right! That gold is worth its weight in trouble. And with each thread he spins, Rump weaves himself deeper into a curse.

There’s only one way to break the spell: Rump must go on a quest to find his true name, along the way defending himself against pixies, trolls, poison apples, and one beautiful but vile-mannered queen. The odds aren’t great for a small boy in a land of fairy-tale bullies, but with courage and friendship–and a cheeky sense of humor–Rump just might triumph in the end.

Here are the five things I loved most about this book:

1. The familiar – I admit I don’t know much about Rumpelstiltskin. What I do know is mostly gathered from “Once Upon A Time,” but even before that the two things that stuck in my mind about Rumpelstiltskin were that his name is important and that magic has a price. Those two themes are woven skillfully into this book, making the story seem familiar even while it twists the fairy tale into something new.

2. The new – There are some cases where I really don’t like a fairy tale being redone–usually when they mess with the happily ever after–but I really enjoyed the way Liesl Shurtliff re-created Rumpelstiltskin as a boy. He’s usually one of those shadowy fairy tale characters you’re not too sure about. I also liked her take on pixies, trolls, and gnomes.

3. The name – So I’m back to the name, but I just have to say how clever it is. Liesl Shurtliff does an excellent job cluing the reader in through Rump’s voice even though he doesn’t get it yet himself. I guess it’s unavoidable since we know his name before the story starts, but it’s fun to see how he arrives at it. And as a side note, the jokes related to his shortened name were great fun.

4. The friendship – Rump and Red have an interesting friendship. I thought from the flap copy that they were already best friends, but really their relationship grows during the story. I especially enjoyed their conversations via gnome messages. I look forward to reading Red’s story next!

5. Rump’s rhymes – I like that Rump’s thing is making up rhymes and that he shares that with his Gran and later Aunt Ida. Here’s an example:

“Home is a place to get out of the rain

It cradles the hurt and mends the pain

And no one cares about your name

Or the height of your head

Or the size of your brain”

So, have you added RUMP to your fairy tale retelling list yet? If you’ve already read it, what did you enjoy most?

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About Michelle I. Mason

I'm a full-time writer, focusing mainly on middle grade and young adult fiction with some freelance PR writing and editing on the side. I'm also a wife, mom, Christian, violinist, avid reader and St. Louis Cardinals fan. And I watch way too much TV.
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12 Responses to MMGM: RUMP by Liesl Shurtliff

  1. Andrea says:

    I definitely have to look for this one!

  2. I’ve heard such great things about this one and can’t wait to read it!

  3. Joanne Fritz says:

    I love unusual fairy tale retellings, instead of just Cinderella, and especially origin stories that come up with creative explanations like this. Haven’t read this yet, but I’d really like to. Sounds like fun.

  4. The original Rumplestiltskin usually tops my lift of off-puttingly creepy fairy tales. I’ll be eager to read what looks like a much more light-hearted take on the tale. Love the idea of the gold spinner being a boy and not an old man.

  5. First of all, Go Team Krista! 😉 And I just saw this book the other day – I love fairy tale retellings, as long as they’re uniquely done and keep the happily-ever-after, which I agree is very important. 😉 This one sounds really fun and I’m excited to read it – thanks for the great review!

    • Yes, although there are some cases where I’m ok with the missing HEA. THE HERO’S GUIDE TO SAVING YOUR KINGDOM proved me wrong there. If you haven’t read that one, you should check it out.

      Good luck in The Writers Voice! Best contest ever!

  6. Deb Marshall says:

    I have this one to read and I am so, so looking forward to it. Now, even more so. Hope you are enjoying your beginning of summertime time. All best to you and your family this Memorial Day…your north o’ the border friend, Deb!

  7. Akoss says:

    Oh sweet! I just got RUMP from my library and it’s waiting on my tbr pile. I’ve been wanting to read it for like ever and I love how your path crossed Liesl’s.

  8. Pingback: A Glimpse at My Agent Spreadsheet: Middle Grade Books I’ve Read | Michelle I. Mason

  9. Pingback: My Favorite Reads of 2013 | Michelle I. Mason

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