Jacob Ludwig Karl, the elder of the brothers Grimm, was born in 1785, andWilhelm Karlin the following year. They both studied at Marburg, and from 1808 to 1829 mainly worked in Kassel as state-appointed librarians, Jacob also assisting in diplomatic missions between 1813 and 1815 and again in 1848. Both brothers had been professors at G ttingen for several years when in 1837 they became two of the seven leading G ttingen academics dismissed from their posts by the new King of Hanover for their liberal political views. In 1840 they were invited by Frederick William IV of Prussia to settle in Berlin as members of the Academy of Sciences, and here they remained until their deaths (Wilhelm died in 1859 and Jacob in 1863). Paul Zelinsky was born in Evanston, Illinois. He attended Yale University, where he took a course with Maurice Sendak, which later inspired him to pursue a career in children's books. Afterwards he received a graduate degree in painting from Tyler School of Art, in Philadelphia and Rome. Paul Zelinsky lives in New York with his wife, Deborah, and the younger of their two daughters.
K-Gr 3‘In a lengthy note, Zelinsky explains his research into the pre-Grimm Brothers' origins of "Rapunzel" in French and Italian tales, but his retelling does not vary significantly from other picture-book renditions. However, his version does not sidestep the love between the maiden in the tower and the prince, as some retellers have done. The lovers hold a ceremony of marriage between themselves, and it is Rapunzel's signs of pregnancy that bring about her banishment from the tower and her prince's downfall. What sets this Rapunzel apart from the others is the magnificence of the Renaissance setting. Readers will linger over the opulence and rich details of furnishings and fabrics, and admire the decorative patterns and architectural details of the tower and the rooms. Echoes of high Renaissance art can be seen in the costumes, the buildings, and the landscapes. In their postures and gestures, the richly dressed characters might have stepped out of the paintings of Botticelli and Mantegna and Verrocchio and Raphael. But in Zelinsky's scenes there are no angels, no holy figures, no miracles‘only magic. The impossibly high, almost pencil-thin tower looms above the trees. Rapunzel's hair, cascading some 50 feet to the ground, would daunt the sturdiest climbers unless they were a sorceress or a young man in love. Each scene, from the delightful Italianate farm pictured on the endpapers to the last happy scene where the prince and his bride pose with their cherub-like twins, is painted, writes Zelinsky, as a humble attempt to "spur an interest in the magnificent art from which I have drawn." A stunning effort.‘Shirley Wilton, Ocean County College, Toms River, NJ
Zelinsky (Swamp Angel) does a star turn with this breathtaking interpretation of a favorite fairy tale. Daringly‘and effectively‘mimicking the masters of Italian Renaissance painting, he creates a primarily Tuscan setting. His Rapunzel, for example, seems a relative of Botticelli's immortal red-haired beauties, while her tower appears an only partially fantastic exaggeration of a Florentine bell tower. For the most part, his bold experiment brilliantly succeeds: the almost otherworldly golden light with which he bathes his paintings has the effect of consecrating them, elevating them to a grandeur befitting their adoptive art-historical roots. If at times his compositions and their references to specific works seem a bit self-conscious, these cavils are easily outweighed by his overall achievement. The text, like the art, has a rare complexity, treating Rapunzel's imprisonment as her sorceress-adopted mother's attempt to preserve her from the effects of an awakening sexuality. Again like the art, this strategy may resonate best with mature readers. Young children may be at a loss, for example, when faced with the typically well-wrought but elliptical passage in which the sorceress discovers Rapunzel's liaisons with the prince when the girl asks for help fastening her dress (as her true mother did at the story's start): " `It is growing so tight around my waist, it doesn't want to fit me anymore.' Instantly the sorceress understood what Rapunzel did not." On the other hand, with his sophisticated treatment, Zelinsky demonstrates a point established in his unusually complete source notes: that timeless tales like Rapunzel belong to adults as well as children. Ages 5-up. (Oct.)