Reviews for Fair, Brown and Trembling : An Irish Cinderella Story


Booklist Monthly Selections - #1 September 2000
Ages 3-7. This is a traditional version of the Cinderella story--no fractured fairy tale with a feminist hero who runs the show. The setting is Ireland: "Once upon a time high among the green hills of Erin." The bright illustrations in folk-art style introduce the fat, bossy, ugly sisters, Fair and Brown, and the delicate Trembling, who's left alone at home in the shadows to do all the work. The fairy godmother is an old henwife, who provides Trembling with splendid clothes and a milk-white horse to carry her to church--not the palace ball; Sunday mass is where everyone sees you. When the prince grabs her slipper and comes looking for her, her sisters lock her in the cupboard, but she makes herself heard and proves her worth. In a nice variation, there are many princes; they fight over Trembling, and the best one wins. The marriage is very happy, and the bad sisters are put out to sea and never heard from again. Like the Harry Potter stories, this has the enduring appeal of the neglected child who's really the best. --Hazel Rochman Copyright 2000 Booklist Reviews

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2001 Spring
Fair and Brown go to church every Sunday, but their beautiful sister Trembling stays home to do chores. One day a magic henwife sends Trembling to church dressed in finery so dazzling that princes near and far want to marry her. Whimsical illustrations place this fanciful tale in Old Erin. A brief source note precedes the story. Copyright 2001 Horn Book Guide Reviews

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Kirkus Reviews 2000 July #2
Another version of the Cinderella story, this one based on a traditional Irish folktale. Three daughters, Fair, Brown, and Trembling, live with their father in a castle in the beautiful Irish countryside. Trembling, the most beautiful of the daughters, is forced to stay at home to cook and clean by her domineering older sisters, Fair and Brown. One Sunday morning, an old henwife comes into the castle's kitchen, outfits Trembling in a beautiful long white dress, and sends her along to church on a horse she has just conjured up. The henwife warns Trembling not to actually go inside the church and to jump on the horse and ride away as fast as she can the minute the service ends. Trembling causes quite a sensation among the people--she charms all of the men and evokes envy from the women, who are jealous of her beauty and her gorgeous clothes. After Trembling's third visit to the church, just as she is dashing away on her snow-white horse, the Prince of Emania pulls off one of Trembling's elegant blue slippers. The Prince and many other princes who have traveled from other parts of Ireland and from as far away as Africa to propose to Trembling, travel the country looking for the woman for whom the shoe will be a perfect fit. The prince finally finds Tremblingand, after fighting off all the competing princes, claims her for his wife. They have 14 children and live happily ever after. The two sisters, by the way, are put out to sea on a barrel, a punishment that seems a tad on the harsh side considering that the sisters are mean rather than actually evil or cruel. The illustrations feature elongated, attenuated figures with indistinct, blurry faces that children may find rather inaccessible and off-putting. An interesting, although somewhat cold and flat retelling of the familiar story, this tale will perhaps be of more interest to students comparing versions of archetypal fairy tales than to the children for whom it is intended. (Picture book. 5-8) Copyright 2000 Kirkus Reviews

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2000 August #3
Daly's (Gift of the Sun) lush, pastoral paintings add depth and charm to a Cinderella variant folktale from the Emerald Isle. In this version, Trembling is the overworked and shunned younger sibling (not stepsister) of snooty twosome Fair and Brown. And rather than sport their finery for a royal ball, the youngladies (and all the gals in the land) vie to catch a husband by looking their most stunning at Sunday Mass. Enter an old henwife in the role of fairy godmother, and Trembling is soon the gorgeous and mysterious woman standing outside the church whom everyone in the congregation longs to meet. Though anonymous Trembling flees on her brilliant steed, a smitten Prince Emania manages to snatch her tiny blue slipper as she rides away. A search for the slipper's owner ensues, but in a feisty twist, Prince Emania must also fight off competing suitors. The well-paced and pleasing blend of fresh and familiar elements will capture fairy tale fans anew. Daly provides willowy, stylized characters with distinct facial features, suggesting the work of Petra Mathers. Set in an unfettered green countryside, a playful black cat appearing on every spread, the illustrations give this oft-retold story a look both ethereal and rustic. Ages 3-7. (Sept.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

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School Library Journal Reviews 2000 September
K-Gr 4-Daly's retelling is enhanced by the lusciously colored, somewhat fey illustrations. However, it is diminished by language that is less rich than that in Joseph Jacobs's version of the tale. In that telling, for instance, when Trembling is ready to go to church, the henwife who serves as the fairy-godmother figure tells her, "I have a honey-bird here to sit on your right shoulder and a honey-finger to put on your left." The next week, when the jealous sisters, Fair and Brown, want to equal the strange lady's splendor they, "would give no peace till they had two dresses like the robes of the strange lady; but honey-birds and honey-fingers were not to be found." In Daly's telling there are no honey-birds or honey-fingers at all, and the sisters' dilemma is simply that, "such fine cloth was nowhere to be found in the land of Erin." While readers may not know what a honey-bird is, they can instinctively surmise that it's a grand, desirable, and probably magical thing. It's the glimmer of the mysterious that is most missing from Daly's serviceable words-that, and several pages of plot that detail the history of Brown and Fair's continuing perfidy after Trembling's marriage. Though attractively illustrated, the storytelling vitiates the desirability of this book for folklore collections.-Miriam Lang Budin, Chappaqua Public Library, NY Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

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