Monday, February 20, 2006

Book Comparison - Topic Cinderella

In digging through old papers from my Master's program I ran across some book comparisons that I had completed for a Children's Materials class. I remembered having alot of fun reading all kinds of books on similar topics. The following are two books that I reviewed for the fabled Cinderella story. Hope you enjoy.

And, who said Mr. Disney had the market on Cinderella's story? It seems the story of Cinderella has been around for many centuries. The story most are familiar with though is the 17th century version by Charles Perrault. However, many similar stories exist from various cultures and time periods. Shirley Climo has adapted many versions of this tale including one from a 6th century B.C. Egyptian legend. Then there is Robert San Souci who introduces us to a 19th century tale of a West Indies girl named Cendrillon (the French form of Cinderella). His story is somewhat based on a French Creole tale that also follows Mr. Perrault's story outline.

Although there are many stories of Cinderella, they all seem to have at least one common denominator, a missing shoe. In these two stories, one is a pink slipper and the other a red-rose slipper. Both Ms. Climo and Mr. San Souci develop their stories around a single young beautiful girl who is in a servitude role and is mistreated. The girls bear their lot in life mostly in acceptance and through singing. Then there is some type of event that provides fate and mystical powers to intervene on their behalf. In the end the girl is "rescued" from her present life circumstances and is elevated to higher "without worries" status through marriage. But, this is where these two stories' similarities end to some degree. The differences start with Mr. Souci telling Cendrillon's story from the godmother's point of view, but Ms. Climo uses a narrator and does not include a godmother or other type of helpful benefactor.

With our Caribbean Cinderella, she is not looking for a better life, but rather true love. She lives with her oblivious father (who fears his new wife), unkind stepmother, and younger half-sister. After her widower father remarried she became the household servant girl who works very hard, but is deemed lazy. Her godmother wants to help her find her true love and turns to a magical wand that was left to her by her own mother. The godmother and Cendrillon are magically transformed and off to a special party they go. The story incorporates a bit of humor along with the French West Indies influence and culture of that time.

Rhodopis (Cinderella) is a slave from Greece that was stolen as a child and sold to a kind old unaware Egyptian master. Since she is a slave, the servants who out rank her are unkind to her. Her master has a special fondness for her and gives her a gift of shoes as he thinks no goddess is as nimble. While the servant girls have sailed off without her to visit the Pharaoh's court to woo him, Rhodopis is working in the fields and loses her precious slipper. A falcon, the symbol for the god Horus, plucks it and flies off to then drop it into the Pharaoh's lap. The Pharaoh determines whomever fits this shoe will be his queen.

Both stories are short and fun to read, but the flow of the Cendrillon seems to be more natural and makes a good read aloud book. When reading the Egyptian Cinderella it felt somewhat choppy and not as "magical".

San Souci, Robert; Cendrillon: A Caribbean Cinderella, illustrated by Brian Pinkney, 1998, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Climo, Shirley; The Egyptian Cinderella, illustrated by Ruth Heller, 1989, Thomas Y. Crowell Junior Books

Check out other "Cinderella" books and see how many story differences there are from Mr. Perrault's.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Neat... an Egyptian Cinderella, maybe she wore a glass sandal. Eww ouch

11:19 PM  
Blogger Frema said...

Did you ever read Ashenputtel? I found it in a story collection once, where the young girl was a slave for her father, stepmother and stepsisters. At the end of the story, her two stepsisters cut off various parts of their foot to make the shoe fit. Lovely. :)

10:18 AM  
Blogger PJ Librarian said...

Oh I remember that one was rather ickky.

3:10 PM  
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