Rumpelstiltskin: a modern retelling (B2)

Do you know the fairy tale, Rumpelstiltskin? Well, this is a modern retelling. Meet Chloe, a young woman who's shaking with terror, waiting for her audition for Find a Star ...


Do the preparation exercise first and then read the story. If you find it too difficult, try one of the lower levels. After reading, do the exercises to check your understanding.

People came from far and wide to audition for the TV talent show Find A Star. At the front of the queue were Mr Miller and his daughter, Chloe Miller. Chloe was a singer. Or, at least, that's what Mr Miller told anyone who’d listen (and anyone who was too polite to say they were bored of listening to him).

Chloe shook with terror. She didn't want to sing in front of the audience and the judges, including famous record producer Simon King. She knew she could sing a little bit, but she knew she wasn't the best. And this competition was for the best. When the doors opened she ran and hid in the bathroom until they called her name. Mr Miller was outside, telling the TV cameras how his daughter sang better than anyone else in the whole world. 'Her voice is like gold,' he said. 'When she wins that recording contract with Simon King, her golden records will fill a room.'

Just then a little man appeared and said to Chloe, 'I can help you win the audition. I'll turn your voice into gold – just like your father's promise. What will you give me in return?'

'I have nothing,' said Chloe. 'Only this ring.'

'I'll take that!' the little man said.

So, when Chloe went to sing in front of the judges, her voice came out so pure and beautiful that the audience stood up and cheered and clapped.

'You're through to the first round of the competition,' said Simon King.

The next month, Chloe and her father arrived for the competition on live TV. Again Chloe was afraid and she hid in the bathroom. I shouldn't have come, she thought. I'm a fraud. But, again, the little man appeared. 'Give me your necklace and I'll turn your voice to gold again,' he said.

And so he did. Once more, Chloe's voice moved the audience and the judges to joy and tears with every song she sang. She won the first round, the second and third, all the way to the grand final. Her father told all the newspapers, 'My daughter is going to win.' Chloe tried to look happy whenever the cameras were on, but in truth she had never wanted to be a famous singer.

This time, when the little man came, Chloe had nothing left to give him and she was terrified. 'Please,' she cried to the little man. 'I’ll go out there and open my mouth and everyone will know I can't sing.'

'I must have something in return,' said the little man. 'Give me nothing today, but you will owe me a great debt. One day I will come and ask you for something and you will have to give it to me.'

Chloe agreed and, sure enough, she won the TV competition and Simon King signed her to his record label, King Records. Her first – and only – album sold millions and her gold records hung on the walls of her father's house. Chloe pretended to be happy whenever journalists asked her questions and she gradually forgot about the little man. Because she didn't really enjoy singing and she knew she wasn't that good, she began to act instead. At first, no one believed this singer could act, but she went to drama school and worked her way from small parts in TV shows to leading roles in films. Soon she was known for being an actress, not a singer, and she loved her job.

One year, she was nominated for an Oscar for Best Actress. The night before the awards ceremony, the little man appeared again for the first time in years. 'I've come for my reward,' he said. 'You must give me your first Oscar or I'll tell all those journalists how you really won the TV contest and how you lied to everyone that you could sing.'

Chloe begged the little man not to reveal her secret. 'I'll give you all the money my record has made,' she said, but he didn't give in.

'I've worked so hard for that Oscar!' she said, in tears.

'Well,' said the little man, 'I'll give you a chance. If you can guess my name in three days, you can keep your Oscar – and your secrets.'

On the first day, Chloe guessed all the names she could think of. 'James, Ahmad, Santiago, Danil, Ji-hun'. But they were all wrong. On the second day she guessed again. 'Drake, Justin, Kanye, Ed, Zayn'. But they were all wrong too. Chloe was in despair. With only one more day to guess, she went to Twitter and searched #guessmyname and #Oscars. After hours of searching, she found a tweet from @Rumpelstiltskin saying, 'Ha ha ha, tomorrow the Oscar goes to … ME :)))) #guessmyname'.

The next day the little man demanded, 'Guess my name or tonight I take your Oscar. I've got millions of followers on Twitter and I'm going to share your secrets with the world.'

'Is your name … Rumpelstiltskin?' she asked.

'Ahhhh,' screamed Rumpelstiltskin, for she had indeed correctly guessed his name. He stamped his foot in anger so hard that it went through the floor. But he kept her secret and Chloe Miller accepted the Oscar for Best Actress and lived happily ever after.

Nicola Prentis


Did you like the story? What's the moral of the story, do you think?

Language level
No votes yet
Personal online tutoring
EnglishScore Tutors is the British Council’s one-to-one tutoring platform for 13- to 17-year-olds.


Submitted by Tolis5 on Tue, 07/20/2021 - 07:15

I loved the story too.It was amusing and with a happy end,something that I always like in stories!!My congratulations to the story's author.Keep up the good work!!

Submitted by hermione123 on Thu, 02/11/2021 - 13:45

It's very great and amusing story. Anyone realize that the names Chloe guesses in the second day are celebrities' names? Drake, justin, kanye, ed, zayn ;)

Submitted by sheenadiya on Wed, 08/29/2018 - 10:19

Yes, I liked the story. I think the moral is 'Always think about every possibility before doing something' because if Rumpelstiltskin had thought if Chloe were to check if anyone posted #what's my name he wouldn't have posted that on Twitter.
English courses near you