Rummanah Aasi

Description: In a magic kingdom where your name is your destiny, 12-year-old Rump is the butt of everyone's joke. But when he finds an old spinning wheel, his luck seems to change. Rump discovers he has a gift for spinning straw into gold. His best friend, Red Riding Hood, warns him that magic is dangerous, and she’s right. With each thread he spins, he weaves himself deeper into a curse.
   To break the spell, Rump must go on a perilous quest, fighting off pixies, trolls, poison apples, and a wickedly foolish queen. The odds are against him, but with courage and friendship—and a cheeky sense of humor—he just might triumph in the end.

Review: I really enjoyed reading this different take on the Rumpelstiltskin tale. The author nicely subverts the classic tale and makes Rumpelstiltskin the hero and not the villain. In The Kingdom, one's name is full of meaning and power, and young Rump is sure that his is incomplete. Just before his mother died in childbirth, she only managed to utter, "His name is Rump.." And so Rump grows up and lives with his grandmother, mining the mountain for specks of gold for their greedy king and suffering ridicule for his name. Shurtliff's world-building is inventive and immediately believable with the inclusion of gnomes rush about delivering messages they have somewhat memorized, gold-craving pixies that fly and bite, and wise witches live in the woods, as does a band of huge intimidatingly smelly, but friendly trolls. All the elements of the original story and key characters such as the greedy miller and his dimwitted daughter, and Rump's magical ability to spin straw into gold, however, the story really shines when Shurtliff fleshes out the Rump's character making him into an appealing hero and a boy who is coping with the curse of his magical skills while searching for his true name and destiny. This captivating fantasy has action, emotional depth, and lots of humor which will appeal to wide range of readers.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: None. Recommended for Grades 3 and up.

If you like this book try: The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom series by Christopher Healey, Sisters Grimm series by Michael Buckley

Description: Marvin lives with his family under the kitchen sink in the Pompadays’ apartment. He is very much a beetle. James Pompaday lives with his family in New York City. He is very much an eleven-year-old boy.After James gets a pen-and-ink set for his birthday, Marvin surprises him by creating an elaborate miniature drawing. James gets all the credit for the picture and before these unlikely friends know it they are caught up in a staged art heist at the Metropolitan Museum of Art that could help recover a famous drawing by Albrecht Dürer. But James can’t go through with the plan without Marvin’s help. And that’s where things get really complicated (and interesting!). 

Review: Masterpiece is an enjoyable mystery that involves two very different families that inhabit the same Manhattan apartment: the Pompadays--a superficial, materialistic couple, their infant son and thoughtful James, from the wife's previous marriage--and a family of beetles, who live behind the kitchen sink and watch sympathetically as James is constantly brushed off by his parents and his good deeds go unappreciated. Careful though the beetles are to stay hidden, boy beetle Marvin crosses the line, tempted by a pen-and-ink set James receives for his 11th birthday by his artist dad. To everyone's surprise Marvin draws an intricate picture and then identifies himself to a delighted James as the artist. Before James can hide Marvin's picture, Mrs. Pompaday loudly proclaims her son's talent and even James's laid-back artist dad compares the work with the famous drawings of Albrecht Dürer. A trip to a Dürer exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art soon follows, James stowing Marvin in a pocket; before long a curator is asking James to forge a Dürer miniature of Fortitude as part of an elaborate plan to catch an art thief. Broach poses important questions to her young readers. How far will go you go to protect a friend even if what you are doing is technically wrong? Is copying a famous drawing right if your intention is to catch an art thief? Masterpiece is fast-moving story with lots of important themes such as hidden lives and secret friendships, and even philosophy and appreciation of art pokes through, but never at the expense of plot. I think this book will be enjoyed by readers who enjoy mysteries and art. 

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: None. Recommended for Grades 3 and up.

If you like this book try: Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett, The Borrowers by Mary Norton, The Cricket in Times Square by George Selden
7 Responses
  1. I enjoyed Rump too, and liked how the story focused on the importance of names. I haven't heard about Masterpiece but it sounds cute so I'll definitely check it out. I'm pretty sure my brother and cousin will like it too.

  2. Both of these sound terrific. I am interested in Rump. I would like to read a new spin on Rumplestiltskin. Thanks from recommendation.

  3. I must have mentioned this, but my kid just started reading in English (she's in second grade) so I've been doing my best to find really exciting books for her, to keep her motivated. These two will make it on my list for sure. We are now reading Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver and loving it.

  4. Both of these sound so good. I really need to get my cousin to come to your blog!

  5. Small Review Says:

    Glad to hear you liked Rump. I have another book by that author that will hopefully be as good as this one was.

  6. Aylee Says:

    Heh, Masterpiece caught my attention immediately at the mention that it includes a family of beetles as characters! That's a pretty clever premise - I think I'll have to add it to my tbr now :) Rump sounds good too - I love it when an author turns a well-known fairy tale on its head.

  7. Kindlemom Says:

    These both sound like great reads but I love that in the Rumple one, instead of being the villain he is the hero of the story. Nice take on a classic with a twist. :D

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