Tag Archives: Multiculturalism

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!

PPBF: Looking for Bongo

I discovered today’s perfect picture book on the “New” shelf at the local library yesterday. The cover drew me in; I brought it home, read it right away, and decided that the sprinkling of Spanish words is perfect for the day after Cinco de Mayo, this is a wonderful example of a diverse book, and it shows an elderly person in a positive light (see Lee & Low Books’ the open book for a fascinating discussion of ageism in children’s literature).

9780823435654_p0_v2_s192x300Title: Looking for Bongo

Written & Illustrated By: Eric Velasquez

Publisher/date: Holiday House, February 2016

Suitable for Ages: 3-6

Themes/Topics: Loss, intergenerational family, reunion, persistence, multiculturalism

Opening: “Where is Bongo? I need Bongo to watch TV with me.”

Brief Synopsis: When a young Afro-Latino boy’s favourite stuffed animal goes missing, he asks family members for help and searches for it; when he finds the animal, he takes the further step of trying to discover how it went missing.

Links to Resources:

  • Color a Bongo
  • The grandmother, called Wela, plays a significant role in this story (per the Endnote, Wela is derived from the Spanish word for grandmother, “abuela”). Discuss the different names children call their grandparents and the roles they play in their lives and/or homes. Check out grandparents.com for a listing of names used for grandparents throughout the world.
  • Velasquez provides clues to the boy and his family through illustrations. Draw a picture of yourself, a family member or your home and include clues to describe yourself, that person or place.

Why I Like this Book: This is a simple story of a favourite toy gone missing and what the owner does to find and protect if from further loss. I love, though, how the boy persists in his quest, even asking the family pets where Bongo has disappeared. I also love how the boy journeys from family member to family member of this intergenerational family and throughout the apartment. In detailed illustrations, the apartment comes alive and we get to know the family through their possessions that show them to be readers, lovers of music and lovers of fashion. A few Spanish phrases are included, just as one would expect to hear in a multi-lingual family. And in an endnote we learn that there’s a real animal called a Bongo – who knew!

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!