Sunday, March 30, 2008


Title: Cinderella
Author/Translator: Marcia Brown
Illustrator: Marcia Brown
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 1954
Genre: Picture book, fairy tale
Age Range: Grades 1-3

1962 Caldecott Medal Winner

Summary: A free translation from Charles Perrault. A young girl is forced into living as a servant to her stepmother and stepsisters. She is always near the fire and is given the nickname Cinderella. When the prince has a ball, the stepsisters are invited. Cinderella's godmother appears, turning ordinary items into magic, but only until midnight. Cinderella is the most beautiful mysterious princess for both nights. On the second night she does not heed her godmother's warning about time, and runs out of the castle as the clock strikes midnight. She leaves her glass slipper, and the prince is determined to find the woman who wears the slipper and make her his wife. Finally, he arrives at their home, and the two sisters try on the slipper, which does not fit. Cinderella asks if she may be allowed to try it on, and it is a perfect fit. She is immediately married to the prince. She allows her stepsisters to live in the palace and marry lords.

Response: This version of Cinderella is perhaps the closest to the Disney tale that I am most familiar with. The plot makes a few changes, such as there are two nights in the ball. Also, Cinderella's father is alive in this story, but in the Disney tale he passes away. The cruelty of the stepmother is left out of this story, and the stepsisters are not quite so mean to her; however, still treating her as a servant is bad enough. Cinderella is perfect. She is so kind to everyone and everything despite how they treat her. Even after she tries on the glass slipper, and her sisters know that she will one day be queen, she is so quick to forgive them, and even gives them homes and husbands in the palace. I think that this is the story of Cinderella in the ideal world, meaning no one gets hurt or in trouble throughout the story. Cinderella is a perfect example of the golden rule, and her beauty shines regardless of being in rags or riches. The element of fantasy is also presented in this story. The godmother waves her magic wand and turns a pumpkin, mice, rats, and lizards into a golden coach with a driver, horses, and footmen to escort the young girl to the ball. Her gowns are made of gold, silver, rubies, and diamonds. But what is also important in this story is not that she was beautiful because she wore these things to the ball, but her inner beauty was present the entire time. Yes dressing up brought her much attention, but even at the end of the story, the man allows Cinderella to try on the slipper because he can see her beauty even in the rags she is wearing. The illustrations in this story are very different than what I have seen in other Cinderella stories. The images are first drawn with ink, and then they are colored in, but not colored perfectly, almost blurred a little, and white spaces are prevalent where color would normally be found. Cinderella always has this white outline around her body, giving her this glow, almost like a goddess of some sort. She has blond hair in the story, while everyone else has dark hair, which sets her apart from them once more. The colors used in the illustrations are very light colors, and they are most likely colored with oil pastels because of the smudging that the illustrator does in many of the images. There is no structure as to how they appear on the pages. There are some illustrations that are small on each page, some that take up the whole page, and even those that have several pictures one page. My favorite illustration is drawn when the sisters return from the ball on the second night and Cinderella is holding her glass slipper in the corner. Her entire body is colored with brown and a bit of orange and turquoise coming through. The background is white and her sisters are drawn normal. It is just a great depiction of the sadness she is feeling, and wishing that she could go back to being the princess at the ball. She is almost camouflaged in the corner, which is how her life is. She blends in, and no one notices how beautiful and wonderful she is.

Teaching Ideas: This is the traditional story of Cinderella. Children in the classroom will relate to it, especially if they have seen the Disney movie. It fits great as a read a loud in a fairy tale unit. A great idea is using this story with another Cinderella tale from another culture, and completing a creative Venn Diagram, or writing a contrasting piece of literature, such as an "I Poem for Two Voices." The format for this can be found at:

1 comment:

Dr. Frye said...

Yes Lauren, this is the version of Cinderella on which Disney based his movie. This illustrations are quite dated and are representative of the artistic medium of the 50's. This is the classic Cinderella story illuminating the theme of "forgiveness."