Rattlestiltskin by Eric A. Kimmel, illustrated by Erin Camarca [in Booklist]
Grimm’s familiar tale gets a Southwestern rendering in Caldecott Honor-winner Eric A. Kimmel’s retelling, with “the best tortillas” as the golden standard. Señora Gonzalez boasts that her daughter Rosalia’s tortillas “are so light, they float like clouds.” The town’s richest man, Don Ignacio, summons Rosalia to his hacienda to turn her mother’s “lies” into truth.
A strange little snake man comes to her aid, but at a price – cook and clean for him and his brothers, who are tired of taking care of themselves. The only way out of servitude is to guess his mysterious name.
Peppering the book with Spanish vocabulary and phrases, Kimmel adds a multicultural twist through words, visually enhanced by first-time illustrator Erin Camarca’s desert landscapes and traditional dress. In spite of noble intentions to add diversity to a well-known story, the result feels more awkward than illuminating, more disturbing than delightful. A lying mother and her desperate daughter too quickly won over by comfort and wealth is an all-too-familiar narrative, but surely more appropriate for older audiences.
Review: modified from “Books for Youth,” Booklist Online, February 16, 2016