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Same book, different covers!

Awards & Honors


  • ALA Popular Paperback for Young Adults

  • Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books "Blue Ribbon Award"



       "A charming and clever collection... Vande Velde's takes on this fairy tale are always humorous and often heartwarming."

—Publishers Weekly, starred review

More editions...


The Rumpelstiltskin Problem has been published in Japan. In addition it was a Scholastic book club selection and was also part of Scholastic's Read 180 program to tackle the problem of adolescent illiteracy, The Rumpelstiltskin Problem has been released as a fun audiobook at level Stage C (high school).

The Rumpelstiltskin Problem

Ages: 12 & up

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin (hardcover)/ Scholastic (paperback)

Book Description:

A collection of variations on the story of a boastful miller and the daughter he claims can spin straw into gold.


Where do you GET those ideas?


The author's note at the beginning tells the truth:  the more I thought about the story of that miller, that daughter, and that strange little man with the unlikely talent of spinning straw into gold--the less it made sense.  I wrote one version, and that was published in Tales from the Brothers Grimm and the Sisters Weird

I really enjoyed playing with all those fairy tales, turning things on their heads, making the character usually thought of as the villain be the good guy, or starting earlier than the traditional story starts, or going on beyond the usual end.

But then I told my friend Ellen Stoll Walsh that the Rumpelstiltskin story is so mixed up someone could write a whole book of different stories based on its plot.  Ellen laughed and said, "Certainly a story or two, but surely not a whole book."

I considered that a challenge.

More stuff...

Does the story of Rumplestiltskin make any sense? No, it does not.

Watch a video where I read from The Rumplestiltskin Problem:



Gregory remembered the miller. He sighed in exasperation that the annoying man had sent his poor daughter all the way here for nothing. And apparently on foot. But he couldn't just tell her that; he couldn't say: "Walk back home even though it's the middle of the night. Your father was wrong. I don't want to meet you."

Instead he leaned over the wall and called to the porter at the door, "Let her in. See that she has a comfortable room for the night and that she's given something warm to eat."

"Yoo-hoo! Your Highness!" Carleen's voice called.

Gregory returned to the wall.

"Don't forget the spinning wheel."

"Excuse me?" Gregory said.

Carleen put her hand on her hip and said, "Well, duh. First you expect me to spin straw into gold, then you expect me to do it without a spinning wheel?"

"But I don't--" Gregory started.

"Well, duh," Carleen repeated with even more scorn in her voice.

Gregory told the captain, "Get her whatever she needs."

"Yes, sire," the captain said.

"Good night, Your Highness," Carleen called up to him. "Don't you worry about me, walking all yesterday afternoon, then sleeping out in the woods, then walking all day today. I'll stay up all night spinning that straw into gold for you. Don't you give me a second thought."

"Good night, then," Gregory called to her.

He sincerely hoped she'd be gone in the morning.

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