A Gorey Rumpelstiltskin

Retold By Edith H. Tarcov
Pictures By Edward Gorey

Once upon a time there was a poor miller who had a beautiful daughter… and thus the story goes of Rumpelstitlskin and his grave ill tempered behavior. This story is plenty gruesome (the miller’s daughter has promised Rumpelstiltskin her first born in exchange for some golden straw) but what makes it a bit more macabre are the illustrations by Gorey.

"Now the poor miller's daughter was all alone.
She really did not know how
to spin straw into gold.
She did not know waht to do.
So she began to cry."

"Don't cry miller's daughter,
the little man said. I will help you.
you must promise to give me something...."

"Anything! Anything you ask! she cried"

"A year later, the king and the queen
had a beautiful baby

"You promised to give me your first baby, said the littleman."

When the queen refuses he gives her 3 days to figure out what his name is. The queen sends her messanger to do some recon and he overhears the little man singing:
" Tonigth my cakes I bake.
Tonigt my beer I manke. Tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow
The queen's little baby I take!

Lucky Ill go as lucky I came
for R U M P E L S T I L T S K I N is my name!

"Now it was the third evening and the little man came again.

Good evening, queen, he said
Do you know my name?

Tell me, is it Tom? the queen asked.


Hm... let me see. Is it Dick?


Well, let me think... Is it Harry?

No. The little man laughed and he shook his head.
No, no. That's not my name.

Then .... tell me... asked the queen.
Could it be.....?
Is it...
R U M P E L S T I L T S K I N?"

It doesn’t end well for Rumpelstiltskin and his temper gets the best of him. He ends up stomping so hard he banishes himself deep into the earth…..No one has seen him since.

I grew up loving the dark and whimsical works of Gorey. I own a few of his books and must say that now that I look back, they seem to be more suited to adults than to children. All the same, I think it’s good to instill something a bit different from the realm of kids books The Boog is used to. Like myself, The Boog, has developed a penchant for Melancholy.

The story was reprinted into a collection of Three Classic Children’s Stories illustrated by Gorey, along with Little Red Riding Hood and Jack the Giant-Killer.

Also By:
The Gashlycrumb Tinies

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