Zel by Donna Jo Napoli
Dutton, 1996.
Fairy Tale



0-525-45612-0 / 227pgs
Retelling of Rapunzel, told in three alternating voices.
Switzerland, mid-1500s


Zel and her mother live alone in an isolated part of Switzerland. They have a little home and a goose and goats, and Mother is very content with their life in the mountains. But Zel enjoys being around people — she looks forward her visits to town on market day, with all the people, animals, wares, scents, and sights. During one visit to town she meets a young man. He quickly becomes smitten with her, and when she asks for a goose egg in return for favours she has done for him, he goes to great lengths to secure one for her. Later at home, when Mother discovers that Zel has a crush on the boy, she quickly decides to move Zel to an abandoned tower where she will be "safe" from strangers where she can grow her golden hair. Trapped alone in her tower, Zel grows her hair until it weighs heavy on her head and talks to the small animals of the forest and paints. Meanwhile, for months Konrad has been searching for Zel, asking questions, riding around the countryside — until he finally finds her cottage where Mother awaits — but Zel is not there, and he cannot find the cottage again. Finally, all he can do is give up, and after two years have passed he agrees to marry whomever is chosen by his father. Until one day, Konrad is riding through the forest and a folded paper bird lands at his horse's hooves, and he discovers the tower and the girl who has nearly gone mad with imprisonment.


Zel — An only child; loves animals and has a way with them, likes Rapunzel lettuce, has golden hair. Born July 6.
Mother — Made a deal with devils for a daughter and is obsessed with keeping her.
Konrad — A nobleman smitten with Zel, but betrothed to another. Born July 6.
Father — Konrad's father who insists Konrad marry the woman of his choosing.

LC Cataloging Info

Summary: Based on the fairy tale Rapunzel, the story is told in alternating chapters from the point of view of Zel, her mother, and the prince, and delves into the psychological motivations of the characters.

{1. Fairy Tales. 2. Mothers and daughters - Fiction.}


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