Monday, October 15, 2012

Cinderellas from Around the World (part 1)

Okay, before I begin, can I please tell you the alternative name for this post?  Cinder- Heller!  I really did love it, but I just couldn't do it. Anyway, as you know we've been chatting up the fantastic world of Ruth Heller.  Today I'm closing out the Heller posts by sharing with you a series of Cinderella books from around the world.
Here's a little background: All 4 books are written or retold by Shirley Climo. Two of these are illustrated by Heller. They are all lovely and unique tales featuring the story of Cinderella intertwined with aspects and traditions of a certain country or culture, and interestingly enough, there isn't a ball in any of them. A few tidbits about each...

The Korean Cinderella is one the books illustrated by Ruth Heller.   Of the four books in this series, this one definitely has my favorite illustrations. Bold, vivid, intricate! They really are exquisite. The Cinderella in this book is named Pear Blossom. She is loses her shoe in the river where it is found by the Magistrate (who is our prince in this tale.) Ironically, this time around it is the wicked stepmother and sister who tell the magistrate exactly where to find the shoe's owner.

The Irish Cinderlad: As you can see the Irish version is about a boy, not a girl. He's got gigantic feet unlike the dainty Cinderellas we normally read about, and Becan also differs your typical Cinderella because he doesn't stick around for the persecution from his wicked step family. Rather, he set off: finding work, scaring giants, and slaying dragons, which is how he meets his princess. Of course, he loses his boot in the process...I think you know the rest, it's just opposite this time. Pretty clever.

While the Korean version has my favorite illustrations, The Persian Cinderella is definitely my favorite story out of these four.  Cinderella in this book is called Settareh, named for a star shaped mark on her cheek, which is of constant ridicule by her step sisters.  In true Persian fashion this book includes veiled faces, visits to the marketplace and a magic jug akin to Aladdin's lamp.  Settareh loses a diamond anklet instead of her slipper and after she is found by the prince, her step sisters use the jug to cause additional treachery. I really haven't read a Cinderella quite like this before.  The plot twisting, the lavish celebrations, fascinating!

The Egyptian Cinderella is actually the story of a slave girl (Rhodopis) that was stolen away from her home in Greece. She isn't treated badly by a step family, but instead by the Egyptian servant girls.  (This is the other book illustrated by Ruth Heller.  I love the contrast between how Rhodopis is drawn all wispy and flowy and the Egyptians are drawn thick and solid, almost reminiscent of hieroglyphics.)
Rhodopis loves to dance and is given a special pair of red dancing slippers from her master. Interestingly, she doesn't even attend the Pharaoh's court, her story's version of the ball. However, one of her slippers does.  It's taken from her by a falcon and dropped in the Pharaoh's lap.

Okay, there's a sneak peek at Shirley Climo's Cinderellas for you.  I'll be sharing more international Cinderellas in another post this week (click here to see them). They'll be from all different authors and illustrators, but equally as unique and varied as today's group-- and I don't think there's a ball in any of the next ones either, hmmm, interesting.
Happy reading!

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