Climbing Rosa: Book Review and Activities

Inside: Book review of Climbing Rosa

Today I'm joining Susanna's Perfect Picture Book Friday.

I was wandering through our local library a couple of days ago and found this lovely Hungarian folktale. It's a new one for me, so I thought I'd share!

Climbing Rosa. A retelling of a funny Hungarian folktale. Book review with 4 ideas for book extensions. #gradeonederful #kidsbooks #climbingrosa #bookreview


Climbing Rosa

by Shelley Fowles
illustrated by Shelley Fowles
Frances Lincoln Limited, 2006
Fiction, Folktale

Opening Lines

Long ago in a far-off kingdom there stood an enormous tree. It was so tall that its highest branches were hidden by clouds. No one had ever seen the top.

Synopsis (from book flap) 

Rosa can climb anything, from a tree to a drainpipe -- which is just as well, since her nasty stepmother and stepsister make her sleep out on the roof.  So when the king offers his son's hand in marriage to the girl who can bring down some seeds from the enormous tree growing outside his palace, Rosa decides to have a go...

What I Thought 

I was attracted to this book for two reasons: 1) the gorgeous and colourful illustrations (they're done in pen and ink, with acrylics) and 2) the female heroine.

As we all know, in folk and fairy tales, it's usually the girl who becomes the "prize" for the boy, but in this story it's reversed. Rosa is lovely, athletic and resourceful. I'm not sure why she would want to marry the prince (he seems awfully lazy), but I guess it's a huge step up from living with a nasty step-mother and sister. :)

The story has some drama and suspense when it seems as though Rosa's stepsister is going to beat her to the prize. That and the beautiful illustrations should keep young readers engaged.

All in all, I thought this was a fun book with a strong female character!

Book Extensions

  1. Venn Diagram: It would be fun to compare this book with Robert Munsch's The Paper Bag Princess. Both books have female heroines with very different endings.  Click here for a simple Venn diagram you can use in your classroom.

  2. Should Rosa marry the prince? I think that if you posed this question to a class of young children, they'd have a lively discussion as to whether or not Rosa should marry him. After the discussion the children could draw a picture and print a short sentence illustrating their answer to this question.

  3. What am I really good at? In this story, Rosa is very good at climbing. Talk to your kids about their personal strengths and have them draw and write about them.

  4. I always love to do an art activity that ties in with a book. I like the one below from Artsonia because the perspective really shows how tall the tree is. (Artsonia used to have a link to this artwork but it's now a private image).

Thank you for stopping by!


  1. Love your ideas here--especially the Venn Diagram with Paper Bag Princess (one of my favorites!) I'm going to look up this book. :)

    1. Thanks, Wendy. The Paper Bag Princess is a long time fave of mine, too :)

  2. Barbara glad you could join #PPBF! This is an interesting book and would be fun to compare with Paper Bag Princess and also Intersellar Cinderella (another strong female hero). Great review.

    1. Oh! Interstellar Cinderella! That's a new one for me. I'll definitely check it out. Thanks!

  3. What a great book review! I instantly hopped over to my library's website to place 'Climbing Rosa' on hold. I love each of your ideas to generate discussion and creativity in the classroom.

    1. Thanks, Leslie. Hopefully you enjoy the book as much as I did:)

  4. Replies
    1. Yes, the illustrations are beautiful and quirky.

  5. This does look like a beautiful book. I like that it was a bit forward-thinking for 2006. But now that I'm thinking that this most likely a folktale from long ago, it's REALLY forward-thinking to make the girl the "prize-winner." Wondering if this is also some sort of commentary on the general laziness of young men who are born with silver spoons in their mouths, as well, LOL. Thanks for featuring!

  6. You find such interesting books. I like this Hungarian version of a well-known tale.

    1. Thanks, Patricia! I honestly wasn't even aware of this story :)

  7. Wow, the artwork looks so inviting - and so totally different than Paper Bag Princess (one of my faves). Thanks for sharing this tale. I love the Venn diagram activity!

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Sue. I'm glad you like it!

  8. Interesting story and beautiful illustrations. Loved it.

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