Saturday, October 29, 2011

Cinderella (Fantasy/Folk Tale)

Cinderella, or The Little Glass Slipper
Translated and Illustrated by Marcia Brown
Atheneum Books for Young Readers (1971)
Caldecott Medal Book

Three time Caldecott Medal Winner Marcia Brown translates the tale classic tale of Cinderella from Charles Perrault. 

Marcia Brown has skillfully retold the French fairy tale of Cinderella, the young, beautiful girl that is harshly mistreated by her step-mother and step-sisters. Brown has successfully translated the trials and tribulations of Cinderella as she is made a slave to her evil step-family. 

"The poor girl put up with everything. She dared not complain, even to her father. He would only have scolded her, because--alas!--he was tied hand and foot to his wife's apron strings." 

As the traditional story goes, the young prince is giving a grand ball. The evil step-sisters were invited to the ball, however, Cinderella was denied an invite. She simply catered to her step-sisters as the prepared for the ball. After the carriage departed, Cinderella wept with sadness. Then, her fairy godmother appeared. Cinderella was comforted by her godmother as she said, "Well, just be a good girl. I'll see that you go." 

Fairy godmother worked her magic and turned a pumpkin, mice, and lizards into a grand coach with footmen. With the flick of her wand, the fairy godmother transformed Cinderella's ragged clothes into a beautiful gown accented with tiny glass slippers. The one rule: "Do not stay a moment after midnight. If you do, your coach will turn back into a pumpkin, your horses into mice, your footmen into lizards and your riches into rags." 

At the ball, Cinderella dazzles and has caught the eye of the young prince. "Oh, how beautiful she is!" Hearing the clock chime 11:45PM, Cinderella made a mad dash towards her coach. The next night, similar events occurred. However, when she ran towards her coach, with the prince following closely behind, she dropped one of her glass slippers. The prince soon set out to find out who the slipper belonged. Finally, it is revealed to be Cinderella, and they lived....well, you know the rest. 

From the American Library Association website, "The Caldecott Medal "shall be awarded to the artist of the most distinguished American Picture Book for Children published in the United States during the preceding year. The award shall go to the artist, who must be a citizen or resident of the United States, whether or not he be the author of the text."

The illustrations are choppy and sketch-like. The color palate relies on shades of the three primary colors (red, blue, and yellow). Truly, I feel that the illustrations lack the imagination that Brown produced in Once a Mouse. Although they are much more imaginative and whimsical than the Disney movie characters, they do not support the story. Brown's reinterpretation of Perrault's classic is much more engaging than the images that accompany the story. 

I would definitely use this version of Cinderella as a read aloud to children in second or third grade. It is wonderful for those students that dream of happy endings, but appealing to everyone who enjoys a good story!

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