Glass Slipper, Gold Sandal, A Worldwide Cinderella by Paul Fleischman. Illustrated by Julie Paschkis. A Month of Cinderellas Continued.

The book begins with an author’s note relaying the evolution of the Cinderella story. Then it begins, “Once upon a time there lived a wealthy merchant whose wife had died. They had one daughter, gentle-eyed and good-hearted.” We never learn the daughter’s name.

The daughter convinces her father, who is lonely, to marry a widow with two daughters. When they are cruel to her, she does not complain to her father since she was the one who coaxed him to marry.

When her stepmother doesn’t feed her, a cow gives her honey from his horn, a fairy gives her figs and apricots, and Godfather Snake gives her rice.

When the great King invites all the unmarried women to the palace in search of a bride, the stepmother gives her impossible tasks to keep her at home. She is aided by sparrows, a witch, and a crocodile. She is given a sarong made of gold, a red kimono, glass slippers, diamond anklets, and sandals of gold. Why she has both glass slippers and sandals of gold, I have no idea. Her auntie changes breadfruit into a coach.

The girl dances until the rooster crows. The Prince is left with the golden shoe and goes searching for the girl he would marry. The stepmother wraps the girl in a mat and hides her but a rooster crows, “they put the ugly one on show and hid the beauty down below.” The girl is brought forward and the magistrate slips on the shoe which now, for some reason, is written as a straw sandal instead of the golden shoe previously stated. No idea where the glass slippers went.

Nowhere in the story is the country identified and the illustrations seem to represent China, Africa, the Ukraine, and Japan on different pages. I understand the author was trying to blend several versions into one, but I don’t think it works. This book might be interesting to adults studying the mythology but I think children would just find it confusing.


Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages


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