A Multi-Cultural Cinderella
In Fleischman’s book, stories from countries world-wide are pieced together to create the single story of Cinderella, told from beginning to end despite the sometimes incongruous pieces. A sweet, beautiful girl who is mistreated but makes her way to meet the prince, falls in love, and lives happily ever after, albeit sometimes with golden sandals and sometimes with diamond anklets.
Paschkis’ illustrations are reminiscent of wood block prints alternating between descriptive narrative illustrations and background images of ethnic food, clothing, and creatures. Bright, bold pictures pop off the page, and each ethnic section is stacked on others, appearing almost quilt-like in its narrative arc. Paschkis did a good job of keeping images relevant to the text and bringing up cultural differences that children will delight in pointing out.
I liked this book: it was straightforward, and each contributing story piece is highlighted in a different color to set it apart (China, Zimbabwe, Iran, Appalachia). Though I was initially expecting to read several full-length versions of Cinderella in one book, it only took a minute to figure out that the story consisted of all versions melded together. This might take some explaining for younger children, and I wouldn’t recommend it to someone not familiar with their own culture’s version of the tale. That said, it would make a good addition to an introductory school unit on comparing and contrasting story elements and cultures. Another nice touch for discussion is the endpages, which show a world-wide map with a label for every region included in the book.
All in all, the story was a clever idea, one that brings small doses of international culture straight into the home while reminding us–adults and kids alike–just how similar we all can be. The story of Cinderella is an enduring one, whether you dine on dulce de leche or beef stew. Both the School Library Journal and Publishers Weekly gave it a starred review. Definitely give Glass Slipper, Gold Sandal a shot, whether at your local library or by purchasing it for your own fairy tale collection.
Copyright September 2007
Images from Our Time in Juvie and www.bn.com
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