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- ISBN-13: 9780689848889
- ISBN-10: 0689848889
- Publisher: Aladdin Paperbacks
- Publish Date: January 2002
- Page Count: 40
- Reading Level: Ages 5-10
- Dimensions: 10.3 x 9.6 x 0.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 0.45 pounds
Not your typical Cinderella story
Everyone knows the basic story of Cinderella, the famous fairly tale that, according to some scholars, originated in China. With Cendrillon, author Robert San Souci puts a new spin on the old story, adding his own delightful Caribbean touches.
Originally published in 1998 and now available in paperback, the story is told by Cendrillon's godmother, or nannin', instead of some twinkling fourth-dimensional being who pops up during the night of the ball. The story boasts a canny, believable narrator who spends years as a servant to Cendrillon's rotten stepmother and sees and shares the girl's privations. Instead of a bright silver trifle with a shining star on the end, her magic wand is a simple mahogany stick inherited from her own mother. The traditional sparkly, ice-white gown is supplanted by a beautiful, sky-blue velvet gown, a "shoulder-scarf of pale rose" and a turban with a tremblant (gold ornament). The ridiculous glass slippers - how can our heroine safely dance in those things, anyway? - are replaced by slippers of pink velvet embroidered with roses. As a final touch the godmother conjures herself a red dress, goes to the ball too and pleases herself with helpings of chocolate sherbet.
Cendrillon's "Prince" is the son of a man who seems to be a wealthy plantation owner, San Souci's sly way of introducing the class and caste distinctions peculiar to the colonized islands. The author also lets it be known that one of the reasons Cendrillon's stepmother is so stuck up is "because her grandfather had come from France."
Pinkney's drawings are ravishing in their wealth of detail and their precise evocation of time and place. Palm trees and ginger plants line the road to the mansion, washerwomen balance baskets of laundry on their heads and of course, there's Cendrillon herself, a doe-eyed girl whose hard life has not marred her beauty, but given it a strength unseen in Disney's impossibly dainty and nerveless heroine.
Building on a traditional tale, San Souci - who employs Creole terms in the story and provides a glossary at the end of the book - has created a refreshingly original work. Cendrillon is full of wonders, a great, short picture book for both children and adults.