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Letters From Rapunzel

Letters From Rapunzel (HarperCollins, Feb. 2007)

Once upon a time, there was a real girl who felt TRAPPED.


Not in the conventional fairy-tale way--this was the dreaded after-school Homework Club. A desolate place, where no gum could be chewed, and where Rapunzel sat, day after day, cursing the EVIL SPELL that had been cast over her father. The doctors called it something else, but a true HEROINE can smell an evil spell a mile away.


So when a mysterious letter addressed to P.O. Box #5667 falls into her hands, she knows she's found the pea under her mattress.


But since when is finding HAPPILY EVER AFTER as simple as Just Writing Back?

2:02 a.m.

Dear Box #5667,

Let me get right to the point. It’s the middle of the night, I can’t sleep, and YOU are the pea under my mattress.

This letter’s about my dad, Aaron Brogan. I found a piece of a letter he was going to mail you, torn up and stuck down the side of his chair. That’s how I got your address (part of it, anyway–I couldn’t find your name).

I couldn’t make sense of most of the letter, since it was only a piece, but the part I could read said:

“…You are the secret to my success as a poet and a human being. Writing these letters every day has helped me keep my heart open, to be willing to live, to keep the darkness…”

The rest was torn off. I wish I’d found it sooner. Maybe then I could’ve written you right away, and asked you how to save him. Because last week he fell victim to the Evil Spell again.

The last time this happened, he had to be away for three days. This time, he’s already been gone a week. And now my mom says it could be another month! So if you’ve been wondering why he hasn’t written you, that’s why. But please, please, don’t give up on him.

My mom says it’s an illness, not an Evil Spell, but I know I’m right. Dads don’t stop talking just because they’re sick. Dads don’t forget that their daughters are supposed to get off the bus at 3:05, and they don’t sit in the house with the lights out and not answer the doorbell when it rings. Dads, at least my dad, are home every day to meet you and have popcorn and root beer.

I have to get to sleep now, before Mom gets home from work. She’s usually not this late, but I guess there was a baby rush. Her record’s twelve babies in one night. I think that’s why I’m an only child.


P.S. That’s not my real name. After all, I don’t know YOUR real name yet. And yes, I know Rapunzel didn’t have a pea under her mattress. Wrong story. I’ll explain tomorrow. Tomorrow I’ll have LOTS of time to write.

P.P.S. Tell me about you. How long have you been my dad’s friend? Where did he meet you? Are you a poet too?

Drawing from my journal



Letters From Rapunzel first appeared as a scribbled book title idea in my journal of June 1997. Much later, in March 2001, as I tried to ease into the rough draft of my first novel, I pretended that Rapunzel was locked in her tower and writing to me. To my surprise, I found out she was not a fairy tale character, but a real girl. A girl with great gifts who didn't know how to use them. A girl who saw everyone in her life as part of a very imaginative story. A girl who desperately wanted to rescue her father, but didn't realize she needed to rescue herself first.