A Rumpelsltiltskin Correspondence

PAUL WRITES: Here is a self-aggrandizing and (to me) heartwarming story about my Rumpelstiltskin.

The book was published in 1986. To my great pleasure, it was quickly taken on by quite a few foreign publishers; I especially loved the rarer languages into which it was translated. A South African house put it into Afrikaans and Zulu and Xhosa! A Scandinavian company issued versions in Danish and Swedish, but also Finnish, and ... Faroese! The little man's name in the Faroe Islands is apparently Lorkuleggur.

It's not surprising, given the different state of world communication back then, that I didn't get fan mail or feedback about those foreign editions. But recently I received a wonderful message from a woman named Rósa who found me—on Instagram!—and said this:

"When I was growing up in the Faroe Islands in the 90s, my kindergarten had Rumpelstiltskin.

It ... was the most sought-after book in the kindergarten by far. You could tell, because it was completely worn out. I begged my mom to buy a copy for me many times, but it was already sold out. Even at the library it was never available, because it was such a popular book. When I was lucky enough to be able to borrow it, I would spend hours getting lost in the wonderful drawings ...

After I had my daughter, I knew I had to get the book for her. The translated edition was sadly never republished and the book was nowhere to be found either in Facebook groups or in second-hand bookstores. My mom bought an English copy of the book and because I live in Denmark now, I plan on copying the Faroese translation when I get back and gluing it on top of the English text. The translation into Faroese is great and that way I can read it to her even when half asleep, because I almost know it by heart. I really hope she will find as much joy in illustrations as I did and still do."
It just happened that the day I received this, my daughter was at the storage facility we rent—it was originally for the overflow from my studio but then things from home went in, and then a massive amount from this daughter when she moved to Australia, and she was now back for a visit, and going through and dealing with it all. I knew that I had some books in there, so I texted her, asking her to look around and see if I had any extra copies of Lorkuleggur, besides the two I keep at home. In that dark room, she took a photo of the shelf to show me that it wasn't there, but then in the photo she saw that she was wrong: there were two copies of the Faroese edition!

I wrote back to Rósa, thanked her for such a great message, and said I might be able to send her an actual copy of the book! My concern was that I had recently had to mail a picture book to Australia, and somehow due to the pandemic, it was impossible to send it for less than $75.00!

Rósa and I had a delightful correspondence about the folktale and translation and other things, all on Instagram Messaging. She is an architect and construction manager, doing work to house Ukranian refugees, a cause that impressed me. When I was able to go to the Post Office and find out what it would cost to ship the one book to Denmark, I was glad to learn that the lowest rate was a relatively sane 1/3 of the Australian postage. Rósa understandably wanted to pay for this, but I asked her instead to make a donation to some charity helping the Ukranian refugees, which she did.

Two weeks later, the book arrived. Rósa sent me photos of her and her daughter, who are very happy with their (signed) new/old Rumpelstiltskin!

And I am happy, too!