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SOMETHING TO READ

“Rump, the True Story of Rumpelstiltskin” by Liesl Shurtliff; Alfred A. Knopf, $16.99.

You probably know the fairy tale: The king marries the miller’s daughter because he believes she can spin straw into gold, and Rumpelstiltskin, the little man who actually does the spinning, demands their firstborn child as his reward.

Shurtliff turns the fairy tale upside down and sideways, making the reader actually cheer for “Rump” (who late in the story discovers his true name). Rump is a young boy, who was born in a poor village and lives with his grandmother, who warns him not to use his mother’s old spinning wheel. His talent for spinning straw into gold attracts the attention of the greedy miller – and the greedy, gold-loving pixies, who attack and bite him. In this version, Rump doesn’t want to take the king’s firstborn, but the magic of the spinning requires a trade every time it is used. Trolls are kind, rather than cruel. The king’s name is Bartholomex Archibald Reginald Fife, or King Barf, for short. And the miller’s daughter is a beautiful but rather nasty young lady.

Although the author gets a little tangled up in her explanation for Rump’s true name, she offers an entertaining spin on the familiar tale (giving Rump a spirited friend, a girl named Red), particularly as she explores the power of a name. (Rump has always called his donkey “Nothing,” for example, and the goat is “Milk.”)

Other fun updates of fairy tales include Gail Carson Levine’s “Enchanted” and Shannon Hale’s “Princess Academy.”

– Jean Westmoore

SOMETHING TO DO

The Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum, 180 Thompson St., North Tonawanda, will celebrate the birthday of the late Allan Herschell with games, activities and birthday cake from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday. Admission is $3-$6.

SOMETHING TO LEARN

If you’re going on vacation and plan to swim in the ocean, don’t drink sea water. First, it tastes yucky. Second, it causes dehydration. If you drank salt water, your body would have to get rid of more water than you drank in order to push out the extra salt. As a result, you would be thirstier than you were before.

Time for Kids: Big Book of Why