The SpReAd the Love (STL) 2014 RA Fandom campaign is designed to help us celebrate random acts of kindness with each other in the RA Fandom and the random acts of kindness for and from others outside the fandom. To find out more about the SpReAd the Love campaign, visit Jazzy at Funky Blue Dandelion blog or Obscura at Ancient Armitage to learn more about it. And in honor of would have been children’s book author’s Dr. Suess’ 110th birthday March 2nd (today), the first STL challenge event is to review a favorite children’s book, then donate it to a child or school or library. So several bloggers are sharing their reviews and hosting others’ reviews on their blogs. I had hosted Trudy Brasure’s Guest Children’s Book Review last Sunday. So now several weeks in, the STL Book Review/Donation Challenge is in full swing.
And today, I give you my book/story review–that has an accompanying monetary donation to our local public library my husband and I made. I was fascinated by fairytales and folktales when I was a very little girl. I had a book of much loved children’s fairytales growing up with shortened version of Grimm’s, Anderson, Perrault, and other author’s/curator’s tales in it. It is packed away somewhere with my other childhood mementos after five moves during my adult life. But the stories linger in my memories.
One such tale I always enjoyed was that of Cinderella (excerpted below) –the Charles Perrault version with a fairy godmother, glass slipper, etc. The Cinderella tale (Oliver Herford illustration right) has all the elements of a great romantic suspense novel–for the kinder set. Ha! Cinderella’s mother dies and her father remarries a woman that becomes known as the Evil Stepmother–sadly stereotyping the role of stepmothers for generations to come. The stepmom has two daughters whom she showers with care and gifts while she makes her step daughter, Cinderella, toil away in the kitchens and cleaning the house, etc., and making Cinderella wear tattered rags.
“No sooner were the ceremonies of the wedding over but the stepmother began to show herself in her true colors. She could not bear the good qualities of this pretty girl [Cinderella], and the less because they made her own daughters appear the more odious. She employed her in the meanest work of the house. She scoured the dishes, tables, etc., and cleaned madam’s chamber, and those of misses, her daughters. She slept in a sorry garret, on a wretched straw bed, while her sisters slept in fine rooms, with floors all inlaid, on beds of the very newest fashion, and where they had looking glasses so large that they could see themselves at their full length from head to foot.”
A brief pause here because in later authors’ versions of the story, the father dies, and it is only then that Cinderella is forced into servitude. Thus absolving daddy of the mistreatment she suffered. Such is not the case in Perrault’s original version. Daddy is alive, but indifferent to his daughter being mistreated because he is so wholly under the thumb of his new wife. So Daddy does not get off the hook for failing in his parental responsibilities in my mind.
“The poor girl bore it all patiently, and dared not tell her father, who would have scolded her; for his wife governed him entirely. When she had done her work, she used to go to the chimney corner, and sit down there in the cinders and ashes, which caused her to be called Cinderwench. Only the younger sister, who was not so rude and uncivil as the older one, called her Cinderella. However, Cinderella, notwithstanding her coarse apparel, was a hundred times more beautiful than her sisters, although they were always dressed very richly.”
And there is the rub. Cinderella was the sweetest, kindest, and most beautiful creature–inside and out. And luckily, Cinderella had a Fairy Godmother looking out for her who helped her magically transform into beautiful clothes as if she were a princess–not once, but twice–as Cinderella attended the castle balls forbidden to her by her stepmother. At the balls, Cinderella met and charmed the Prince of the land, who fell in love with her instantly. They danced and danced. She even sat down at dinner for a time with her Stepsisters who did not recognize her–them thinking that she was a gracious foreign princess.
But Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother’s magic only lasted until midnight–when in truth, parties could go all night long. The first night, Cinderella watched her time and slipped away from the Prince in time. He tried to follow her, but she was too fast and got away. But the second night, Cinderella was having so much fun that she forgot the time and only realized that the magic would end and return her to rags when the castle clock finished gonging the 12 midnight hour. She had but 12 gongs to hitch up her skirt and dash out of there. But she lost one of her glass slippers–which the Prince picked up and held to his breast as both a talisman and a sign of what he must do.
So in the following days, the Prince search through their lady guests at the palace and then into the countryside for whose dainty foot would fit the glass slipper. Though Cinderella’s two Stepsisters tried to wedge their much larger feet into the tiny glass slipper, it would not accommodate either of them. Of course, we know that Cinderella’s foot fit it and she then put on her other glass slipper that she had saved.
“Cinderella, who saw all this, and knew that it was her slipper, said to them, laughing, “Let me see if it will not fit me.”
Her sisters burst out laughing, and began to banter with her. The gentleman who was sent to try the slipper looked earnestly at Cinderella, and, finding her very handsome, said that it was only just that she should try as well, and that he had orders to let everyone try.
He had Cinderella sit down, and, putting the slipper to her foot, he found that it went on very easily, fitting her as if it had been made of wax. Her two sisters were greatly astonished, but then even more so, when Cinderella pulled out of her pocket the other slipper, and put it on her other foot. Then in came her godmother and touched her wand to Cinderella’s clothes, making them richer and more magnificent than any of those she had worn before.
“And now her two sisters found her to be that fine, beautiful lady whom they had seen at the ball. They threw themselves at her feet to beg pardon for all the ill treatment they had made her undergo. Cinderella took them up, and, as she embraced them, said that she forgave them with all her heart, and wanted them always to love her.
She was taken to the young prince, dressed as she was. He thought she was more charming than before, and, a few days after, married her. Cinderella, who was no less good than beautiful, gave her two sisters lodgings in the palace, and that very same day matched them with two great lords of the court.”
The Prince had found his Princess and all lived happily ever after. With the new Princess forgiving her sisters and helping them make delightful upscale marriages. I like that the close of the tale ends on a note of forgiveness–for her Stepsisters, who begged her pardon. No mention was made of Cinderella’s Stepmother, nor her father. So perhaps, forgiveness can only go so far in Perrault’s mind. But the morals of this story are that suffering is alleviated, goodness prevails, and that dreams do come true. Perfect sentiments for little ones, but with a slight edge for older discerning readers.
To read the text of Perrault’s Cinderella (as I hyperlink cited earlier that the story excerpts were from), visit: http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/perrault06.html
To read a collection of this and other of Perrault’s fairytales, visit http://www.gutenberg.org/files/29021/29021-h/29021-h.htm
P.S. As a child, I adored the 1965 Rodgers and Hammerstein (and Schrank) television musical production of Cinderella (image right) that was full of big name stars–Walter Pidgeon and Ginger Rogers as the King and Queen, Celeste Holm as the Fairy Godmother, and others, as well as, Lesley Ann Warren as Cinderella and Stuart Damon as the Prince.
Here is a clip of “In my own little corner”, endearingly sung by Lesley Ann Warren in a video by loafersguy:
And another clip of “Do I Love You Because You’re Beautiful?” sung by Lesley Ann Warren and Stuart Damon in a video by Michael Mapel:
P.S. And more recently, I very much like the 1998 updated version of the story (with the social justice themes front and center) starring Drew Barrymore as Cinderella in the film Ever After: A Cinderella Story (image right). Here is the clip for part 1 (in a video by EllaEnchantedBook), with links to the other parts to the rest of the movie after it:
P.S. And finally, here is British actor and master storyteller whom we all so admire, Richard Armitage, reading “The Lost Acorns” on the British CBeeBies television show in 2006 in a video by http://www.RichardArmitageNet.com: