The Center for Children's Books


Graduate School of Library and Information Science
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Guess My Name: Rumpelstiltskin Stories - October 2013

Selected and annotated by Alice Mitchell


Brooke, William J. Teller of Tales. HarperCollins, 1994. 170p. Gr. 6-9.
In Brooke’s humorous retelling of the Rumpelstiltskin folktale, readers meet a little girl locked in an Emperor’s castle, who is dictating the story of Rumpelstiltskin to Teller, who is unsatisfied with the end of the girl’s story. Teller completes the story, renaming Rumpelstiltskin ‘Herbert,’ although the miller’s daughter manages to convince the court that his name is Rumpelstiltskin. When the princess is older, she runs away, finds Rumpelstiltskin in the forest, and learns the importance of one’s name.

Bunce, Elizabeth C. A Curse as Dark as Gold. Levine/Scholastic, 2008. 392p. Gr. 7-10.
Charlotte Miller is looking for a way to get her family out of debt so that they can keep their mill. The golden thread provided by a deal with Jack Spinner is the only foreseeable solution. What Charlotte doesn’t know is that bargaining with Jack Spinner is a curse that has affected her family for generations and has a price too high for her to pay. Bunce’s Rumpelstiltskin-inspired story effectively weaves together genres of fantasy and historical fiction, placing ghosts and witches into the early days of England’s Industrial Revolution.

Datlow, Ellen and Terri Windling, ed. Troll’s Eye View: A Book of Villainous Tales. Viking, 2009. 200p. Gr. 5-8.
Rumpelstiltskin has many good qualities, particularly his improvements to bread and bridges, and believes those thankless qualities make up for his bad habit of killing and eating human babies. And so, after tricking the Queen with a false name, Rumpelstiltskin is enraged when he realizes that the Queen and King switched out their child with a puppet that paralyzes him after he swallows it whole, giving the King the opportunity to put him in a cage.

Doherty, Berlie. Fairy Tales; illus. Jane Ray. Candlewick Press, 2000. 223p.
This telling of Rumpelstiltskin remains true to the original German folktale, with Ray’s illustrations adding bright, bold color. Each page has shining gold embellishments, which are also incorporated into the illustrations depicting the miller’s daughter, the miller, and Rumpelstiltskin himself.

Hamilton, Virginia. The Girl Who Spun Gold; illus. by Leo and Diane Dillon. BlueSky/Scholarstic, 2000. 32p. 6-9 yrs.
This African retelling introduces readers to Lit’mahn, a mischievous, magical man. Quashiba marries the Big King with the promise that after a year and a day, she will begin spinning thread into gold. Lit’mahn offers to help Quashiba with the condition that she must guess his name after three days, or else he would shrink her and carry her off. Leo and Diane Dillon’s illustrations, which clearly depict Lit’mahn’s true devious nature and Quashiba’s strength, enhance the story.

Moser, Barry. Tucker Pfeffercorn: An Old Story Retold. Illus. by Barry Moser. Little, 1994. 32p. 6-9 yrs.
Moser takes the original Rumpelstiltskin story and transplants it to the American south, complete with southern accents, the company store, and Tucker Pfeffercorn’s jean jacket. A local man gets Bessie Grace in a heap of trouble when he tells a story that she can spin cotton into gold, leading to the richest man in town, Hezakiah Sweatt, to kidnap Bessie Grace’s baby and lock her in a barn with orders to spin gold. When Hezakiah Sweatt is killed and Bessie Grace escapes, Tucker Pfeffercorn returns to demand Bessie Grace’s daughter, Claretta.

Napoli, Donna Jo and Richard Tchen. Spinners. Dutton, 1999. 197p. Gr. 9-12.
In an effort to win the heart of his true love, a tailor steals an enchanted spinning wheel that can turn straw into gold. The consequence is that the spinning wheel steals his good looks, causing his true love, now pregnant with his child, to marry another. Their daughter, Saskia, is trained as an expert spinner, but runs into trouble when the king demands that she spin gold for him. The tailor-turned-spinner helps her under the condition that he takes Saskia’s first child, his grandchild, satisfying his deep desire for a family.

Ness, Evaline. Tom Tit Tot; illus. Evaline Ness. Scribner, 1965. 27p. Gr. K-3.
In this English version of the classic German folktale, a spinner is ashamed that her daughter ate five pies, and so lies to the king about her daughter’s ability to spin five skeins a day. The king demands the daughter to marry him to live in comfort eleven months of the year, and to spend the last month spinning five skeins each day. Tom Tit Tot comes to her “rescue,” bargaining that if she cannot guess his name after three days of spinning that he gets to carry her off.

Schmidt, Mary D. Straw into Gold. Clarion, 2001. 172p. Gr. 6-9.
This book tells the story of what happened when the queen failed to guess Rumpelstiltskin’s name, and he absconded with her young son—but with what motive? When Tousle travels to town for the first time, he did not expect to be defending the lives of a group of rebels to the king. The queen supports him and gives him the chance to answer a riddle in seven days, or the rebels will die, forcing Tousle and his blind guide, Innes, to set out in search of the banished queen who holds the answer to the riddle.  Tousle and Innes are followed by the King’s Grip, who is looking for Tousle’s father, a man who can spin straw into gold.

Stanley, Diane. Rumpelstiltskin’s Daughter; illus. by Diane Stanley. Morrow, 1997. 32p. Gr. 4-8.
When the miller’s daughter, Meredith, is forced by the king to marry the king and spin straw into gold, she decides she would much rather marry the generous, hardworking Rumpelstiltskin than the greedy king. After their escape, Meredith and Rumpelstiltskin lived a quiet life in the country, raising their daughter, Hope. When the king captures Hope and tells her to spin gold, she concocts a plan to defeat the king and help the kingdom’s starving subjects.

Steig, Jeanne. A Handful of Beans; illus. by William Steig. diCapua/HarperCollins, 1998. 142p. 5-8 yrs.
Steig follows the traditional Rumpelstiltskin tale in this rendition, with a six-line afterward about the amusing nature of the story that the rapacious old King “got all the loot—And a princess to boot!” The illustrations are childlike and endearing, adding an adorable quality to this often-dark tale. Rumpelstiltskin, instead of looking ominous and threatening, looks more like an innocent, jolly huntsman who speaks only in verse.

Stewig, John Warren. Whuppity Stoorie; illus. by Preston McDaniels. Holiday House, 2004. 32p. 5-9 yrs.
In this Scottish retelling, Rumpelstiltskin is an old woman named Whuppity Stoorie. After Goodwife O’Kittlerumpit is widowed with a son to look after and not much money, she relies on a pregnant sow for hope and solace. When she finds her sow ill and dying, she turns to a stranger for aid, not realizing that the old woman is a fairy, who then demands Goodwife’s son as payment.

Vande Velde, Vivian. The Rumpelstiltskin Problem. Houghton, 2000. 116p. Gr. 5-8.
In Vande Velde’s series of six alternative stories, she expands on Rumpelstiltskin’s story. Rumpelstiltskin himself is troll in one tale, overcome by a hunger to try the taste of a human baby; in another Ms. Rumpelstiltskin believes she would be a better mother than the queen. In one turn of fate, Rumpelstiltskin is a kind elf that looks out for the miller’s daughter, and rescues her and her daughter from a loveless marriage to the king.

Walker, Paul Robert. Little Folk: Stories from Around the World; illus. by James Bernardin. Harcourt, 1997. 72p. 5-8 yrs.
In this relatively faithful version, the two illustrations are beautiful, with one in color and one a simple black and white line drawing. The historical note in the back matter provides information about similar stories, including Tom Tit Tot from England, Whuppity Stoorie from Scotland, and Kinkach Martinko from Russia. In this note, Walker also explains the changes he made to the traditional Rumpelstiltskin story.

White, Caryolyn. Whuppity Stoorie; illus. by S.D. Schindler. Putnam, 1997. 32p. 5-8 yrs.
Kate of Kittlerumpit lived with her mother with a pregnant sow named Grumphie, but when Grumphie falls ill, Kate and her mother can find nothing to make her better, turning to a strange woman who magically appeared from a whirlwind for help.  This woman then demands Kate as payment for healing Grumphie, much to her dismay, unless Kate and her mother can guess her name.  While walking through the forest, Kate discovers the solution to her predicament.

Zelinsky, Paul O. Rumpelstiltskin; illus. by Paul O. Zelinsky. Dutton, 1986. 37p. 4-8 yrs.
This traditional telling of Rumpelstiltskin is enhanced with beautiful, expressive illustrations that pay significant attention to detail. Zelinsky’s work, done in a Renaissance style, earned a Caldecott Honor in 1987, as well as numerous other awards.  The note on the text gives some historical background to the original German telling by the Grimm brothers.

Folktale compilations:

Cole, Joanna, comp. Best-loved Folktales of the World; illus. by Jill Karla Schwarz. Doubleday, 1982. 792p. 4-6 yrs.
This collection of fairy tales and folklore holds two versions of the Rumpelstiltskin story, the German ‘Rumpelstiltskin,’ and the English ‘Tom Tit Tot.’

Grimm, Jakob Ludwig Karl. The Complete Grimm’s Fairy Tales; illus. by Josef Scharl, comm. by Joseph Campbell. Pantheon Books, 1974. 864 p. 4-6 yrs.

Hallett, Martin and Barbara Karasek, ed. Folk and Fairy Tales. Broadview Press, 1991. 373p.

Top