Rapunzel (Caldecott Medal Book) illustrated by Paul Zelinsky won the Caldecott Medal the year it was released. It is a beautiful book and one of my favorite versions of Rapunzel. It is based on the Grimms' version but the Italian style illustration hearken back to Petrosinella (Parsley) the Italian versions of the tale, a disconcerting dichotomy for me whenever I read it, I admit. I expect a different story with the illustrations. Not a complaint by any means, just a weird quirk of my over-informed Rapunzel brain. Still, this is one of my recommendations for anyone looking for a Rapunzel picture book. It tells the tale and teaches a little art history at the same time for overachievers.
Here are some more illustrations, from Zelinsky's website:
Isn't that tower spectacular?
I was fortunate enough to hear Zelinsky speak a little bit about his experiences working on the book before it was finished. My memory is foggy, but I attended a seminar at Simmons College and his works were part of the gallery of art on display. He had just returned from Italy where he had been doing research for this book, so no art for it was on display. My biggest impression was that Zelinsky was quiet, not eager to talk. He lets his art speak for him, especially in large social situations. Over two years later when the book was released, I was thrilled with it. How lovely that the research and trip to Italy (never a hardship!) garnered him a Caldecott.
Zelinsky also links to a lesson plan using his book--a wonderful lesson plan--by his wife, a school teacher. See the lesson plan here and click through and read the thought provoking questions either way. It combines a few disciplines, including art appreciation.