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Dunn, Sonja
Illustrated by Andrea W. von Konigslow Goderich (Ont.), Moonstone Press, 1992. 32pp, paper, $7.95, ISBN 0-920259-39-1. CIP

Grades 2 to 4/Ages 7 to 9

Reviewed by Maryleah Otto

Volume 20 Number 5
1992 October

To review Sonja Dunn's rap version of "Rapunzel" in its print form is like trying to appreciate the sound of a Strauss waltz by looking at the sheet music. An accompanying audiotape, if one exists, would have made it possible to provide a more balanced critique. I can only imagine that "Rapunzel's Rap" must be great fun to hear and see, for Dunn has a solid reputation as a children's performer. But all those youngsters who may never see Dunn's retelling performed (as it was intended to be) will find that this Rapunzel, in book form, can't hold a candle to even an abbreviated version of the Grimm brothers' work.

Anyway, the ancient tale of Rapunzel, with all its classical elements of trickery, witchcraft, innocence, romance and justice, survives more or less intact here. As for the language, well, I guess "contemporary schoolyardese" describes it best. There's a contradiction in the text when we are told that Rapunzel was imprisoned in a tower and "wasn't allowed downstairs to play" and we read that "this tower was high and had no stair." Also, the reference to Rapunzel's song is puzzling because no previous mention of a song is made. And Rapunzel is called a "hero," not a heroine (is the latter too sexist perhaps?).

Andrea von Konigslow's black-and-white illustrations are just like the text, frivolous, funky and funny. The colour book cover shows our hero(ine) and her prince riding off on a motorcycle, helmeted of course for safety, while the prince's noble steed rides tandem behind. Oh, yes, Rapunzel is driving!

As a fun piece for the stage or the story room, Rapunzel's Rap is probably a sure-fire hit. As a book to read to a child, it's hopeless. As a book for a child to read alone, it's unlikely to win any fans unless the reader has already seen Dunn in a live performance. Rapunzel's Rap may be useful in a hi-lo reading program or to enhance a visit from its author but otherwise it's not a first choice.

Maryleah Otto is a retired children's librarian now doing part-time adult reference service at St. Thomas Public Library in St. Thomas, Ontario.

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