This funny fractured fairy tale goes behind the scenes of Rumpelstiltskin. New York Times Bestselling author Liesl Shurtliff "spins words into gold [Kirby Larson, Newbery Honor winner]."
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.
A Texas Bluebonnet finalist and winner of the ILA award for middle grade fiction, Rump is perfect for fans of Gail Carson Levine's Ella Enchanted or Adam Gidwitz's A Tale Dark and Grimm. And don't miss Liesl Shurtliff's other fairy tale retellings: Jack: The True Story of Jack and the Beanstalk and Red: The True Story of Red Riding Hood.
"A fresh riff on the Grimm Brothers' Rumpelstiltskin, told with wit from the impish point of view of the troublemaker himself." —People
"Lighthearted and inventive, Rump amusingly expands a classic tale." —Brandon Mull, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Fablehaven.
An Excerpt fromRump: The (Fairly) True Tale of Rumpelstiltskin
My mother named me after a cow’s rear end. It’s the favorite village joke, and probably the only one, but it’s not really true. At least I don’t think it’s true, and neither does Gran. Really, my mother had another name for me, a wonderful name, but no one ever heard it. They only heard the first part. The worst part.
Mother had been very ill when I was born. Gran said she was fevered and coughing and I came before I was supposed to. Still, my mother held me close and whispered my name in my ear. No one heard it but me.
“His name?” Gran asked. “Tell me his name.”
“His name is Rump . . . haaa- cough- cough- cough . . .” Gran gave Mother something warm to drink and pried me from her arms.
“Tell me his name, Anna. All of it.”
But Mother never did. She took a breath and then let out all the air and didn’t take any more in. Ever.
Gran said that I cried then, but I never hear that in my imagination. All I hear is silence. Not a move or a breath. The fire doesn’t crack and even the pixies are still.
Finally, Gran holds me up and says, “Rump. His name is Rump.”
The next morning, the village bell chimed and gnomes ran all over The Mountain crying, “Rump! Rump! The new boy’s name is Rump!”
My name couldn’t be changed or taken back, because in The Kingdom your name isn’t just what people call you. Your name is full of meaning and power. Your name is your destiny.
My destiny really stinks.
I stopped growing when I was eight and I was small to begin with. The midwife, Gertrude, says I’m small because I had only the milk of a weak goat instead of a strong mother, but I know that really it’s because of my name. You can’t grow all the way if you don’t have a whole name.
I tried not to think about my destiny too much, but on my birthday I always did. On my twelfth birthday I thought of nothing else. I sat in the mine, swirling mud around in a pan, searching for gold. We needed gold, gold, gold, but all I saw was mud, mud, mud.
The pickaxes beat out a rhythm that rang all over The Mountain. It filled the air with thumps and bumps. In my head The Mountain was chanting, Thump, thump, thump. Bump, bump, bump. Rump, Rump, Rump. At least it was a good rhyme.
Thump, thump, thump
Bump, bump, bump
Rump, Rump, Rump
“Butt! Hey, Butt!”
I groaned as Frederick and his brother Bruno approached with menacing grins on their faces. Frederick and Bruno were the miller’s sons. They were close to my age, but so big, twice my size and ugly as trolls.
“Happy birthday, Butt! We have a present just for you.” Frederick threw a clod of dirt at me. My stubby hands tried to block it, but it smashed right in my face and I gagged at the smell. The clod of dirt was not dirt.
“Now that’s a gift worthy of your name!” said Bruno.
Other children howled with laughter.
“Leave him alone,” said a girl named Red. She glared at Frederick and Bruno, holding her shovel over her shoulder like a weapon. The other children stopped laughing.
“Oh,” said Frederick. “Do you love Butt?”
“That’s not his name,” growled Red.
“Then what is it? Why doesn’t he tell us?”
“Rump!” I said without thinking. “My name is Rump!” They burst out laughing. I had done just what they wanted. “But that’s not my real name!” I said desperately.
“It isn’t?” asked Frederick.
“What do you think his real name is?” asked Bruno.
Frederick pretended to think very hard. “Something unusual. Something special . . . Cow Rump.”
“Baby Rump,” said Bruno.
Everyone laughed. Frederick and Bruno fell over each other, holding their stomachs while tears streamed down their faces. They rolled in the dirt and squealed like pigs.
Just for a moment I envied them. They looked like they were having such fun, rolling in the dirt and laughing. Why couldn’t I do that? Why couldn’t I join them?
Then I remembered why they were laughing.
Red swung her shovel down hard so it stuck in the ground right between the boys’ heads. Frederick and Bruno stopped laughing. “Go away,” she said.
Bruno swallowed, staring cross-eyed at the shovel that was just inches from his nose. Frederick stood and grinned at Red. “Sure. You two want to be alone.” The brothers walked away, snorting and falling over each other.
I could feel Red looking at me, but I stared down at my pan. I picked out some of Frederick and Bruno’s present. I did not want to look at Red.
“You’d better find some gold today, Rump,” said Red.
I glared at her. “I know. I’m not stupid.”
She raised her eyebrows. Some people did think I was stupid because of my name. And sometimes I thought they were probably right. Maybe if you have only half a name, you have only half a brain.
I kept my eyes on my pan of mud, hoping Red would go away, but she stood over me with her shovel, like she was inspecting me.
“The rations are tightening,” said Red. “The king—”
“I know, Red.”
Red glared at me. “Fine. Then good luck to you.” She stomped off, and I felt worse than when Frederick and Bruno threw poop in my face.
Red wasn’t my friend exactly, but she was the closest I had to a friend. She never made fun of me. Sometimes she stood up for me, and I understood why. Her name wasn’t all that great, either. Just as people laugh at a name like Rump, they fear a name like Red. Red is not a name. It’s a color, an evil color. What kind of destiny does that bring?