Grounded by Megan Morrison. Scholastic, 2015.
Rapunzel has grown up in a tower filled with everything she could ever want – beautiful dresses, a harp, books filled with stories about her and her beloved Witch. All the stories warn of the dangerousness of things on the ground, the evil of the princes who’d want to lure Rapunzel out of her tower. Rapunzel has never wanted to leave. But when a boy named Jack climbs up into her tower and claims that he’s met her before – that they talked just recently – she is confused. And when he says that the red fairies are trying to kill Witch, she decides she needs to investigate the situation on her own. Why would anyone not love Witch as much as she does?
It turns out that the fairy headwoman, Glyph, is dangerously ill because of something Rapunzel unwittingly did. Rapunzel doesn’t remember – but she has to admit that there’s a lot she doesn’t remember. Glyph’s husband, Rune, is outraged, but Glyph is inclined to be more forgiving. Rapunzel’s one chance to redeem herself to the fairies and earn a chance to save herself and Witch is to journey to the distant woods and meet the Woodmother. Jack will accompany her to keep her safe, although he has his own hidden mission. As Rapunzel sees more of life on the ground, she realizes that much of what Witch told her wasn’t true. What will happen when Rapunzel learns the truth about Witch, and why did Witch work so hard to keep Rapunzel happy and not wanting to get out of the tower?
I wasn’t actually sure I needed another Rapunzel retelling – Zel by Donna Jo Napoli and Rapunzel’s Revenge by Shannon and Dean Hale are both so good. I should remember that there’s always room for another retelling of the classics. This started off feeling like a fun, light romp, but got much deeper along the way as Rapunzel herself went from a superficial to a much more nuanced understanding of the world. The underlying message read to me as the importance of compassion over innocence. Just beautiful – thoughtful without feeling weighed down. There’s plenty to laugh at, too, including Rapunzel’s struggles with lugging her massive amounts of hair around. The world of Tyme, with its multiple countries named after colors, is also fun to explore. At first, I thought it was an odd choice. Then I looked more closely at the color names – more than a rainbow, including colors like Crimson, Brown and Lilac – and realized that the countries are named after Andrew and Leonora Lang’s groundbreaking Fairy Books, all named after colors and now available as free ebooks from Project Gutenberg. Rapunzel fans can also check out my Rapunzel Round-up post focused on picture book retellings.
This title has been nominated for the Cybils. This review is my own opinion, not that of the committee.