Hale, Dean and Hale, Shannon. 2008. Rapunzel’s Revenge. Ill. by Nathan Hale. New York: Bloomsbury. ISBN 978159992883
Rapunzel’s Revenge falls squarely into late elementary to early middle school age material. The reader needs to be familiar with the major fairy tales mentioned, Rapunzel, Jack and the Beanstalk, Snow White, but also old enough to appreciate the divergence from the normal tale. For example, Rapunzel rescues herself. The reader also must be willing to put up with the cliche western phrases and accents that Shannon and Dean Hale gave the characters.
That being said, for any fans of traditional American comics, the art style and setting in the Wild West is beautiful. Nathan Hale uses the classic comic style that, for a long time comic reader, evokes images of the old Batman or Spiderman comics. While there is a lot of negative space in the top third of most frames, the lower two thirds are busy enough to bring readers back for a second or third look.
Rapunzel’s Revenge centers around the Rapunzel fairy tale. However, instead of growing up in a tower, she grows up in the villa and garden of Mother Gothel. It is only after she meets her true mother and begins to act out against Mother Gothel that the tower appears. After rescuing herself, and throwing an arrogant prince off of her trail, Rapunzel, through a misadventure meets Jack, who just so happens to have a goose who won’t lay an egg and a single magic bean. Continuing on her quest to save her true mother, who Gothel is working as a slave like the majority of people in the land, Rapunzel and Jack get into some classic and classically western mischief. They do things such as save a princess, rescue a town from coyotes, and avoid the predictably corrupt law.
While it was a decent read, I was rather disappointed by the weak and predictable plot. I was excited to see a graphic novel by Shannon Hale. I have read her novels before and they always have both strong characters and a strong plot. While the characters were decent, the plot was weak.
That being said, this would be a great addition to a section on fairy tales. Rapunzel’s Revenge would go great beside books like The Stinky Cheese Man. It also lends itself to pairing with Disney’s Tangled, seeing as both have strong and active Rapunzel characters…who fight. On the more creative side, it would probably work well if a group of children was given a group of fairy tales and encouraged to pick a setting, modern, ancient Greece, Arthurian, far east, Star Wars, and blend the fairy tales into the setting. For example, what would happen if Jack was a Jedi…or if Sleeping Beauty lived in L.A.?
Cybil Award 2008
Children’s Book and Play Review- ” Newbery Honor author Shannon Hale has teamed up with her husband to create a delightfully whacky graphic novel version of Rapunzel…Nathan Hale’s illustrations are colorful, fun, and full of action. They clearly communicate not only what is happening, but also how the characters feel.”
Kirkus- “The Hales apply a new twist (or three) to the classic tale, creating a strong, sassy, braid-whipping character who waits for no prince. Nathan Hale’s art, stylistically reminiscent of a picture book, provides a snazzy counterpoint to the folksy text.”
Kirkus Reviews. August 1, 2008. Vol. 76, No. 15. Accessed via CLCD http://ezproxy.twu.edu:4529/index.php/bookdetail/index?page=1&pos=1&isbn=0146622579842
Reynolds, Kate. Childrens Book and Play Review. September/October 2008. Vol. 29, No. 1. Accessed via CLCD http://ezproxy.twu.edu:4529/index.php/bookdetail/index?page=1&pos=1&isbn=0146622579842