Fairy tale has many versions—September 14, 2012
The story of Cinderella is perhaps the best-known fairy tale, but it wasn’t created by Walt Disney. The Cinderella story appears to date back to a Chinese tale from the ninth century called “Yeh-Shen.” There are hundreds of versions of this story and every culture seems to have its own. French author Charles Perrault is believed to be the author of our “modern” Cinderella, and his story was written more than 300 years ago.
Many different children’s authors and illustrators have interpreted the Cinderella story, including Barbara McClintock, Susan Jeffers, and Marcia Brown. William Wegman’s version tells the classic story but is illustrated with photographs of his weimaraners in costume.
The library has versions from around the world, including African tales, such as “The Egyptian Cinderella” by Shirley Climo and “Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters” by John Steptoe; Asian tales such as “Kongi and Potgi” by Oki S. Han and “The Gift of the Crocodile” by Judy Sierra; and European tales, such as “Princess Furball” by Charlotte Huck and “Tattercoats” by Flora Annie Steel.
“The Rough-Face Girl” by Rafe Martin is a Native American version of the Cinderella story. Other American cultures are represented also: “Ashpet” by Joanne Compton is an Appalachian tale, “Adelita” by Tomie dePaola is a Mexican story, and “Cendrillon” by Robert D. San Souci is a Caribbean version.
Some authors have presented the Cinderella story from a different point of view. Russell Shorto’s book includes two stories: “Cinderella” tells the traditional story, but when you turn the book upside down you find “Cinderella: The Untold Story,” which is Cinderella’s sister’s version of what happened. Susan Meddaugh’s book “Cinderella’s Rat” tells what happened the night of the ball from the point of view of the rat who was turned into a coachman by the fairy godmother.
Numerous parodies of the Cinderella story have also been written, such as “Chickerella” by Mary Jane and Herm Auch, “Dinorella” by Pamela Duncan Edwards, and “Cinder Edna” by Ellen Jackson. “Bubba the Cowboy Prince” by Helen Ketteman reverses the rolls and tells the story of a young cowboy who is bossed around by his stepdaddy and stepbrothers but ends up marrying Miz Lurleen, the prettiest and richest rancher in Texas.
The Cinderella theme also appears in books for older readers. Gail Carson Levine’s “Ella Enchanted” tells the story of Ella who struggles against a childhood curse that forces her to obey any order given to her. In “Just Ella” by Margaret Peterson Haddix, 15-year-old Ella accepts Prince Charming’s proposal, but finds the tangle of palace rules and royal etiquette stifling and plots to escape. “Bound” by Donna Jo Napoli is based on Chinese Cinderella tales, and “Cinder” by Marissa Meyer provides a futuristic take on the Cinderella story.
Introduce your children to different versions of the Cinderella story and compare them. How are they the same and how are they different? You’ll find these and other versions at the library.