Sunday, November 15, 2015

Rapunzel's Revenge & Calamity Jack

Calamity Jack & Rapunzel's Revenge
by Shannon Hale(Author), Dean Hale (Author) and Nathan Hale(Illustrator)
Ages: 8+

Among the Grimm's tales, Jack & Beanstalk and Rapunzel are pretty well-known. Rapunzel is a story of a girl imprisoned in a tower and rescued by a prince. The original is pretty different from the one we are generally used to. What is interesting is that story by Grimm Brothers was based on earlier folk tale published by Friedrich Schulz in 1790.  The same story has probably undergone multiple variations and re-tellings.  In this series, Shannon Hale and Dean Hale work out their own wonderful variation of these famous tales. The Rapunzel is no longer a damsel in distress, she is a go-getter, a person who does not wait to be rescued by for some action to happen; she is THE ACTION. What a wonderful relief this story is - with the concept of 'damsel in distress' getting turned over on its head to becoming 'damsel to rescue' story-line. 

The initial part of the story-line for Rapunzel is same as the original, but the story diverges after Rapunzel grows her long hair. She starts to learn how to user her hair to lasso, hit, catch and harness etc. She escapes from her prison and gets to meet a blundering side-kick called Jack. The Jack is the same as the one from Jack & Beanstalk fairy tale story. Jack has his own story that is dealt in the second book, which again is grand reworking of the original. 

Who is a hero? Is it he or she that looks the part, suave and stylish (like in the movies) or is it some one who just knows to do the right thing. Sometimes, the heroes are not the biggest or the strongest ones, heroes are those who might be as small as a pixie, but know when to act and get the work done in the right way.  This is a running theme in both these books. 

Many gender stereotypes are dealt in humorous manner. There is a running joke about the dress of Rapunzel. Even after she does an heroic act, some people can only think of the dress that she was wearing - reminds us of the media's obsession with the dress of various women in the public sphere, irrespective of their action. 

There are a few other folk tale elements woven in to the narrative - like the story of the golden goose and folk tales associated with pixies. There are probably more elements woven in that I am not aware of. 

The Calamity Jack book is almost steam-punk-ish with its steam engines, flying machines and guns; while the Rapunzel's Revenge is wild west-ish. 

If you are looking for a rollicking tale with wild twists, danger at every corner and protagonists who overcome the danger with great gusto, pluck and humour - these books are the right ones for you. This Rapunzel is a hero that both my son and daughter would like to follow.

Please check out the Shannon Hale's site for lot of interesting articles, making of the these graphic novels and a lovely pdf with ideas for teachers to use in the class along with the reading of Rapunzel's Revenge

1 comment:

Sheela said...

My ten year old girl loved Rapunzel's Revenge! Thanks for sharing, Sathish.

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