Winner of the 1998 Caldecott Medal

This famous fairy tale from the Brothers Grimm turns out to have at least as many sources among literary tales as it does in folklore. Zelinsky chose elements from various versions, both Grimm and earlier, to compose this adaptation.


The story of Rapunzel begins with a couple who, after many years together, find that they are expecting a child. But the wife is plagued by a craving for rapunzel, an herb that grows in the walled garden of the sorceress next door.

To save his wife's life, the husband steals rapunzel from this garden, only to be caught in the act by the angry sorceress. In return for sparing his life (and the rapunzel he holds), she demands that the husband promise her the newborn child, whom she will name Rapunzel.

There follows the well-known story of a long-haired girl kept in an inaccessible tower, and a prince who finds her and wins her heart.


Kirkus Reviews called the art "grandly evocative, composed and executed with superb technical and emotional command."

The Horn Book said, "Simply put, this is a gorgeous book; it demonstrates respect for the traditions of painting and the fairy tale while at the same time adhering to a singular, wholly original, artistic vision."


Would you like to know what rapunzel the herb tastes like? (Its real English name is "rampion," but for the purposes of the story, it is always called by its German name, "rapunzel.") You can order seeds for a tasty rapunzel salad from Chiltern Seeds in England. Rampion seeds are extremely small, almost like grains of sand, so they need to be planted carefully.

Chiltern was the source of the rampion that Paul Zelinsky grew to help make the paintings for this book; another source for the seeds is Sand Mountain Herbs in Alabama. The plant seems to vary greatly in taste and texture from source to source.

Read a page or two about some rampion/rapunzel that Paul ordered from Chiltern for a second time: how it grew, and how some went to a Kindergarten with a fairy tale project.

Teachers might like to look at these lesson plans prepared by Deborah Hallen (a.k.a. Mrs. Paul O. Zelinsky, and a retired teacher with long experience in the New York City Public Schools).

Click here if you are in the USA and would like to order Rapunzel from an independent bookseller near you, .