While I was familiar with several versions of the Cinderella Story, Yeh-Shen, The Rough Face Girl, A Smoky Mountain Rose, and Cinder Edna, I had never had heard of the Glass Slipper, Gold Sandal: A Worldwide Cinderella. I found it a delightful version of Cinderella that I look forward to sharing with others.
Paul Fleischman takes 17 multicultural versions of the Cinderella story and blends them into one book. The book opens with a simple framed picture of a mother and child reading a story. You turn the page and the story within the story begins. As the mother reads about about a how a girl convinces her father to marry the widow down the road, you realize the story is Cinderella. The text and folk art picture is framed in bright colors and a orange-yellow design. If you look closely at the art work in the design you pick out symbols of Mexico, a donkey, a cactus, a snake and a bright sun. A small box in the corner also says Mexico. The next page hold another snip of text about how the stepmother begins ordering the girl around and gives her room to her daughters. This time the text and folk art picture is framed and surrounded by a yellow- green design. The picture has Asian images such as a tea pot, rice paddies, and a small box in the corner that says Korea. The page after that tells of how the stepmother only allows the girl a few scraps of food, but since the girl begged her father to marry the women she vows not to complain. Once again the text and art work is surrounded by a rich green design that highlights figs, dates, and a scorpion, all imagines from Iraq. At this point you realize that there is a pattern; a snip of text from a country's version of Cinderella and then an illustration that gives you colors and imagines from that represents that country. You quickly pick up that the orange pages are from Mexico, the yellow-green from Korea, bright green from Iraq, pink from India, and purple from Appalachia. While there are small variations between the different versions of the story, all follow the same tale. A beautiful, kind girl gains a stepmother who treats her badly, and she is not allowed to go to the big social event. The girl is always given an impossible task to finish and left with nothing to wear. Some type of magic must occur to get the girl to the social event, she is always the most beautiful women there, and no one recognizes her. At a set time she must leave because her magic will run out, and she'll go back to dirty rags. The eligible bachelor always gives chase and ends up with some type of footwear that will only fit the mysterious beautiful girl. The cruel stepmother always tries to get her daughter in the footwear, but some how the girl always comes forward and claims her place next to the bachelor. They always live happily ever after! The story within a story ends when the mother finishes reading the little girl her bed time story.
The first hint this book is going to be something different is the beautiful brightly colored art work on the cover of the book. The bright folk art look of the book makes you want to pick it up. The next clue that this book is different are the end covers that feature a map of the world with certain countries and places labeled. I found myself returning to the end covers again and again to locate where the snip of text and art work had come from in the world. My favorite part is the Author's Note written by Paul Fleischman prominently displayed at the beginning of the story. I usually skip those, but this one said "READ ME." In very simple terms he explains how the Cinderella story has traveled around the world because of its statements on people and their ways.
It is amazing to me that so many countries have such similar versions of the same story and that over the centuries it has changed very little. Except for a few words such as scorpion, rice,and figs that are true to that particular culture, the story comes together almost seamlessly. The artwork is what fills in the back story of the culture that that snip of text originates. The colors and the imagines set each cultural apart yet the simple folk art style tie everything together. Except for the wordless picture books, I feel that the illustration are what makes this story special. I found myself going back to each page and studying the detail of the background art and then comparing it to the other pages from the some countries. Julie Paschkis did a beautiful job Illustrating "the girl" in each culture's image yet you always know that she is Cinderella. In a touch of humor, he step-sister are always illustrated with big feet. The art work takes a simple text and adds volume and depth to it.
I think that Glass Slipper, Gold Sandal makes a wonderful statement on how no matter how different we think other cultures are from our own that we all very much the same. I would differently share this book with my class. I would probably use it to talk about people who are different yet still very much the same. It would be a book that if I used it as a read aloud I would make it available for my students to study on their own. I can't wait to share it with them!