Monday, February 17, 2014

Reading: Glass Slipper, Gold Sandal - A Worldwide Cinderella

Photo courtesy of www.amazon.com
The book Glass Slipper, Gold Sandal, written by Paul Fleischman and illustrated by Julie Paschkis, allows young readers to travel the world, as bits and pieces of different Cinderella stories are woven together in a diverse tapestry.  I delighted in the ornate illustrations, retelling the story from Mexico to Appalachia to Zimbabwe and Germany, and appreciated the captions for each drawing, which taught me where each part of the story originated.  With large text spread lightly across each page, Glass Slipper, Gold Sandal is appropriate for the youngest and oldest of readers.

Being most familiar with Walt Disney's version of Cinderella, this book opened my mind to other tales of the orphaned child.  In fact, in Glass Slipper, Cinderella isn't orphaned at all!  She still lives with her father and stepmother, but her stepmother is so demanding that she is allowed to torture poor Cinderella.  Why, Cinderella even has to sleep on the warm ashes of the hearth!  While most children in this situation would understandably complain to their fathers, Cinderella does not because she "picked up the scorpion with [her] own hand." So, she endures the oppression brought about by her mother with the help of her animals friends: a cow that gives her honey, a fairy that gives her fruits, and a snake that provides her with rice.  Because she is nourished from the generosity of her friends, Cinderella grows into a beautiful young girl. When the king announces his search for a queen, the wicked stepmother makes Cinderella stay home to do impossible tasks.  To her rescue comes a witch whose spells cause the chores to do themselves, and to the shore comes a crocodile with a golden sarong, feathered clock, and red kimono for Cinderella to wear to visit the king.  Magical glass slippers, diamond anklets, and golden sandals appear on her feet, and her aunt transforms a big fruit into a coach to transport Cinderella to the king's palace.  At the palace, Cinderella dances with the prince until the rooster crows, then dashes away and loses her glass slipper.  The king searches for the girl on mountains and in deserts, so desperate is he to find his mysterious love.   

While reading Glass Slipper, I especially enjoyed analyzing each illustration and thinking about each one represented its culture in the book.  The illustrations for Mexico, represented in the first pages, show Hispanic individuals, and the young girl is dressed in a gown with bright, yellow flowers similar to the dresses that I saw when I visited Mexico several years ago.  The background illustrations are bright yellow and reveal donkeys, cactus, and pan dulce - things that readers might see if they were to visit certain geographic regions in Mexico.  I find it neat that individual illustrations are framed against the lively backgrounds, making it appear as if they are photographs of special events from history.  I also found it neat how the little girl and mother on the first page are showcased again on the last page reading the same book that I just read!  What a fun connection for students to make!  Further, I appreciated having the opportunity to hear parts of other Cinderella stories and am eager to find more of these fairy tales and broaden my own world-view of this famous fairy tale.  This book will be essential when I conduct my next unit on fairy tales, as it embodies several Cinderella stories into one!  It will be a Cinderella tale like most of my students have never heard, and they will remember the different cultures represented and will perhaps seek out other versions on their own.

Because of its lively illustrations and its seamless way of combining the various Cinderella tales, Glass Slipper is a fairy tale that I will not soon forget!  I hope that other authors will follow suit and create more fairy tale books that encompass many tales within. 

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