“Paul O. Zelinsky, unquestionably one of the most original and gifted children’s book illustrators, has once again brought forth a unique vision for an age-old tale with unrivaled emotional authority, control of space, and narrative capability. Few contemporary artists can match the level at which his paintings tell a story and exert their influence.
Beyond the Grimms, Zelinsky’s Rapunzel retelling can be traced back to a late-seventeenth-century French tale by Mlle. La Force based hers on the Neapolitan tale Petrosinella in a popular collection at the time. According to the artist, the fundamentals of the story are about possessiveness, confinement, and separation rather than punishment and deprivation. Thus, the tower given to Rapunzel by the sorceress is not a desolate, barren structure of denial but one of esoteric beauty on the outside and physical luxury on the inside. And the world the artist creates in his paintings through the palette, control of light, landscape, characters, architecture, interiors, and costumes speak to us not of an ugly witch cruelly imprisoning a beautiful young girl but of a mother figure who powerfully resists her child’s inevitable growth, and of a young woman and man who must struggle in the wilderness for the self-reliance that is the true beginning of their adulthood.
Paul O. Zelinsky’s work, as always, and yet always in a new and arresting way, thrillingly shows us the events of the story while guiding us beyond them to the truths that have made it endure.”