For the month of April, I am going to discuss variations of the Cinderella story. The Cinderella theme appears in European (The Greeks may lay claim to the oldest version from 7 BC), Asian, and American cultures. It has become a theme for young adult and adult science fiction and fantasy. It is the subject of fractured fairytales and spinoffs.
The most well-known version is probably that of Charles Perrault published in 1697. Today I will look at this story and four similar traditional versions.
Cinderella based on Charles Perrault’s tale. Illustrated by Debbie Lavreys.
In the “original” version of Cinderella, the father does not go away nor does he die, he simply ignores the abuse suffered on his daughter by his new wife and stepdaughters. This text follows the traditional story and uses fairly simple vocabulary. It would be a suitable first Cinderella book to read aloud to a child. However, I would definitely recommend discussing the father’s lack of protection.
The illustrations are detailed and full-color. They have an interesting quality of line and unusual facial feature representation.
Cinderella by Paul Galdone.
This book follows the traditional original story line. In this version as well, the father does nothing to protect his daughter who is bullied immediately after the wedding by her new stepfamily.
The illustrations are pen and ink and watercolor wash, quite detailed but they could use more expression. The stepmother and her daughters, unfortunately, are featured as fat with pig like noses.
Cinderella: Jump at the Sun. Illustrated by John Kurtz.
The one draw to this cheaply made book is that it features Cinderella and her family as people of color. It essentially follows the traditional story.
The illustrations are fairly bland as is the text. For the price, it would be an adequate introduction to the Cinderella story.
James Marshall’s Cinderella retold by Barbara Karlin. Illustrated by James Marshall.
Another traditional version, Marshall’s book never explains why the father did nothing to protect Cinderella. The illustrations are pen and ink with watercolor whitewash. Unfortunately the characters resemble each other (everyone is plump, even Cinderella) and the simple features sometimes lack expression.
For such a hoopla over the illustrator, it definitely lacked pizzazz.
Cinderella by Barbara McClintock.
This version follows the traditional storyline even including the ball being held for two nights. The father is a coward who fears the stepmother and leaves Cinderella to be bullied.
One stepsister is fat and one is extremely thin. Cinderella herself has a waist the size of a thimble.
The illustrations are intricately detailed and reminiscent of old Mother Goose books. The ball scenes feature gentlemen and ladies decked out in Louis XIV style clothing. The palace has chandeliers, richly painted ceilings, and ornate columns.
In the end, Cinderella forgives her stepfamily and provides suitable noblemen for her stepsisters to marry. This book is worth a look purely for the historical style illustrations.
This was the best of these versions.
When I was a child, we had a set of encyclopedias with an entire volume dedicated to fairy tales. I loved the full-page color realistic painting for each story. The endings were graphic and brutal. In this version of Cinderella, she punished her stepmother by having the prince’s torturers heat iron shoes until they were red-hot. Then she forced her stepmother to dance in them until she died. Fortunately, I have never come across this version since.