Tag Archives: fairy tale retelling

PPBF – Adelita: A Mexican Cinderella Story

When our daughters were young, they loved to dress up as princesses and “marry” princes. Tomorrow, our daughter will marry her “prince”, who hails from South America and speaks Portuguese and Spanish. I couldn’t resist reviewing a book set south of the US border, sprinkled with Spanish phrases and with the happy ending we all know and love!

9781417735105_p0_v1_s192x300Title: Adelita: A Mexican Cinderella Story

Written & Illustrated By: Tomie dePaola

Publisher/date: G.P. Putnam’s Sons (Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers)/2002

Suitable for Ages: 5-8

Themes/Topics: fairy tale retelling; Mexico; folklore

Opening:

Hace mucho tiempo – a long time ago- in a village in Mexico, there lived a merchant named Francisco and his beautiful young wife, Adela.

Brief Synopsis: This retelling of the Cinderella tale features a young Mexican orphan living with a stepmother and two stepsisters, a young rancher seeking love, a doting nurse, and a fiesta.

Links to Resources:

  • Host a fiesta with Mexican-inspired foods and crafts;
  • Discover more about the lovely traditional clothing and Rebozos (shawls) that play a role in this retelling;
  • Try your hand at creating some Mexican folk art of your own;
  • Compare this Cinderella retelling with the “Disney” version so many of us know: what’s the same? What’s different? Why do you think dePaola kept what he did and changed other aspects of the story?

Why I Like this Book:

Adelita is a classic dePaola offering: lovely, detailed illustrations framed by vibrant Mexican tilework and a story with just enough elements from a familiar fairytale combined with new details to satisfy any fairytale lover. I especially appreciate the inclusion of Spanish phrases throughout the text, especially as a dictionary with pronunciation guide is provided.

Although Adelita is an older book and the text is longer than many picture books published in today’s market, I think the story stands the test of time and kids today will enjoy meeting this Mexican Cinderella.

adelita_door

reproduced from dePaola’s website

A Note about Craft:

How has dePaola made the classic Cinderella story his own, and what can writers learn from what he kept or changed?

  • The folkart Rebozo that Adelita wore to the Fiesta is at the heart of the story and replaces the glass slippers. dePaola picked an item that is found in Mexico and honors its artistic traditions. Additionally, we learn that the Reboza belonged to Adelita’s mother – another break with the “original” Cinderella story where the shoes appear magically;
  • The prince becomes a rancher in dePaola’s tale, a person with stature in the community, but one that is more believably from the region;
  • The magical elements of other versions are absent from Abelita. Instead, the kindness of a loving older woman enables Abelita to attend the Fiesta; and
  • Rather than being named Cinderella, Abelita references the fairytale when she is at the Fiesta, and bids her “prince” to “Just call me Cenicienta – Cinderella.”

dePaola published insights about his Mexican Cinderella story on his website .

Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Books https://susannahill.com/for-teachers-and-parents/perfect-picture-books/list provides reviews of picture books by topic. While Susanna is taking a break for the summer, you can still check out the other great picture books featured there!

PPBF – Glass Slipper, Gold Sandal

In celebration of the release of a new version of a tale as old as time, today’s Perfect Picture Book is a fairy tale retelling. But, as you will read, this is no mere “change this, update that, fiddle with the ending” version. Rather, it’s a window into many world cultures, and for this reason, I’ve chosen to review it as a Perfect Picture Book:

9780805079531_p0_v1_s192x300Title: Glass Slipper, Gold Sandal: A Worldwide Cinderella

Written By: Paul Fleischman

Illustrated By: Julie Paschkis

Publisher/date: Henry Holt and Company, 2007

Suitable for Ages: 5-10

Themes/Topics: fairy tale retelling, multiculturalism, Cinderella, folkart

Opening:

Once upon a time there lived a wealthy merchant whose wife had died. They had one daughter, gentle-eyed and good-hearted.

Brief Synopsis: The traditional Cinderella story, told with the details found in the many versions of this story handed down from around the world.

Links to Resources:

  • Substitute objects from your home or region for the objects that play a role in the traditional Cinderella story, e.g., if pumpkins don’t grow near your home, substitute something else that could turn into a coach, like a watermelon, coconut or even a basketball. How does this change the story – or does it?
  • Explore the World and find out about the many countries featured in Glass Slipper, Gold Sandal or explore other countries you’ve visited or want to visit.

Why I Like this Book:

Glass Slipper, Gold Sandal is a composite version of this popular fairy tale told by incorporating details from the many versions of the Cinderella story told throughout the world. As stated on the book jacket:

Once upon a time, in Mexico…in Iran…in Ireland…in Zimbabwe…There lived a girl who worked all day in the rice fields…cooked in the royal kitchen…tended the cattle…then spent the night by the hearth, sleeping among the cinders.

The girl’s name is Ashpet…Vasalisa…Sootface…Catskin…Cendrillon…Cinderella.

Her story has spanned centuries and continents, changing to match its surroundings. Now Newbery-winning author Paul Fleischman and illustrator Julie Paschkis braid its many versions into one globe-spanning tale, a hymn to the rich variety and the enduring constants of our cultures.

With vibrantly detailed folktale illustrations and book-ended with a charming picture of a mother and daughter reading the story together, Glass Slipper, Gold Sandal is a book to read, and re-read, again and again.

A Note about Craft:

Fairy and folk tale retellings are a popular genre, for readers and writers. When a familiar story is retold, the author must consider which parts to change to fit the time, place and intended audience. Often, the changes cause the new story to become popular only within a segment of potential readers: those seeking humor, perhaps; or those who desire a different ending; those desiring to read about a particular culture; or even those who love pirates, dinosaurs, or ninjas, to name but a few.

Glass Slipper, Gold Sandal differs from these retellings because Fleischman has not changed any of the original story but through his storytelling, he has highlighted what is the same and what’s different across various cultures. He has, in effect, opened a window into the various Cinderella versions and I believe he has achieved a story that will prompt discussion about what’s the same and what’s different in the many cultures highlighted.

For a lovely picture book that sets the familiar tale as old as time in an African setting, see Beauty and the Beast, H. Chuku Lee, illustrated by Pat Cummings (Harper Collins, 2014).9780688148195_p0_v2_s192x300

This Perfect Picture Book entry is being added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Books list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!