After learning that the Cinderella story is timeless and universal, I decided to find a version from another culture. So I choose Cendrillon A Caribbean Cinderella. While it is similar the traditional version of the Cinderella story, it does have a few differences. Even before you get to the title page, the main character, the godmother, begins telling her story. She tells of how she was left a poor orphan. The only thing left to her was a magic wand of mahogany that will only work to help someone you love for a short time. The young girl grew up to be a blanchisseuse, a washerwoman. One of the women she worked for was sickly and died shortly after giving birth to Cendrillon. Her husband, Cenderillon's father, soon remarried to a cold women that made Cendrillon work "like a serving-girl". As Cendrillon grows she begins joining her Godmother at the river to wash clothes. They laugh and sing even though life is tough at home. One day Cenderillon comes to the river "sad-faced" because she is not being allowed to go to the ball. The Godmother promise to help her get to the ball. That night the godmother comes to the house and uses her magic wand to create a coach, five coachmen, and a beautiful gown with beautiful slippers. Cendrillon and the godmother attend the ball with the knowledge that "the magic lasts only a short time". The ball is a wonderful event, Cendrillon and Paul fall in love and dance away till the midnight bell chimes and the two women have to run away into the night leaving behind a embroidered pink slipper. Cenderillon feels that the magic is the reason that Paul fell in love with her and that a least she had one marvelous night. Paul is soon knocking at the door with the lost pink slipper, he is trying the slipper on all the "unmarried young women on the island". The godmother makes sure that Cendrillon tries on the slipper which fits perfectly and she and Paul live happily ever after. The perfect ending to any fairy tale!
After reading Glass Slipper, Gold Sandal by Paul Fleischman, I was intrigued with the different cultural versions of the story so I went looking for one that I had never read. Cendrillon A Caribbean Cinderella was a perfect choice. You immediately get the feel of the Caribbean with Brian Pinkney's illustrations. His art work uses the beautiful rich colors of the Caribbean in dream like imagines that make you think of faraway magical islands. I found this description and examples of the technique that he use on his web site:
"Brian uses the “scratchboard” technique to create many of his illustrations. Rather than adding lines or paint to a white canvas or paper, he subtracts; it's almost like drawing in reverse. Starting with a white board covered in black ink, Brian uses sharp tools to scratch away the ink to expose the white board below, creating white lines that emerge to form the image he is trying to portray. “Working in scratchboard is like drawing, etching, and sculpting all at the same time,” says Brian. He adds the color last, using a new technique by tinting the black-and-white images with Luma dyes, then painting on top of that with acrylic paint."--Brian Pinkney
image from Alvin Ailey by Andrea Davis Pinkney, 1993
The images seem to be in constant motion just like the ocean and island breezes. Robert San Souci choice to write from a storytellers point of view celebrates the oral language tradition of the island. Throughout the story I noticed a mix of French and creole words which made the story more authentic. I was pleased to see a "Glossary of French Creole Words and Phrases" at the back of the book. I was also enjoyed reading the Author's Note. I found it interesting that the story is "based on a French Creole tale "Cendrillon" and "follows the basic outline of Perrault's Cinderella". The story, the language, and the illustrations all make me think of the times my family and I have spent in the Caribbean enjoying the beauty of the culture and tropical islands.
This story would be a wonderful mentor text to use when I teach compare and contrast this spring. I think that my students could relate to this story and be able to see very distinct ways that they are similar and different. It would also be wonderful to use as a writing lesson in point of view or even how to use voice in your writing. I can't wait it share it with my class!