Fairy Tale Roundup: Cinderella

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

C.S. Lewis wrote The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe as a gift for his goddaughter.  But, as he explains in the preface, she grew faster than the story and was too old by the time it was finished.  But, he writes, "some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again."  Isn't that a lovely truth?

I love fairy tales, and I'm learning to love them in a new way now that I'm old enough, again.  Which is why we are starting a new series of posts to share our favorite versions of fairy tales.   We'll begin with the quintessentially classic tale, Cinderella.  There were already 345 known versions of this story 125 year ago.  Cinderella is endlessly evolving, across time and cultures.  In some versions she's born inside a vegetable and in others she rides to the ball in one.  Sometimes a fairy godmother intervenes, sometimes it's a dead fish's bones, and other times Cinderella's cleverness, and goodness, are all the magic she needs.

My favorite version of Cinderella is a Native American telling, The Rough-Face Girl, written by Rafe Martin and illustrated by David Shannon.  From Algonquin folklore, the heroine is a young girl, poor and mistreated by two older sisters, whose beauty is hidden under scars from tending to the family's fire.


The great invisible being and his guardian sister look first at her heart and see true beauty.  The heroine shows courage and confidence, she knows who she is and what she has seen.  The illustrations are as beautiful as the moral of the story.  It's a book that would have a place in anyone's home library.

There are so many wonderful versions, I can't stop at just one.  But since I have to stop somewhere, here are some favorites from around the world.

1. The Rough-Face Girl (Native American)
2. Princess Furball by Charlotte Huck (Eastern European)
3. Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters by John Steptoe, a Caldecott Honor book (African)
4. Smoky Mountain Rose by Alan Schroeder (Appalachian) 
5.  Yeh-Shen by Ai-Ling Louie (Chinese)

And here are some other inventive and thoroughly enjoyable renditions:
1. Prince Cinders by Babette Cole
2. Dinorella by Pamela Duncan Edwards
3. Bubba the Cowboy Prince by Helen Ketteman
4. Fanny's Dreams by Caralyn Buehner
5. Walt Disney's Cinderella (we love the vintage illustrations)


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