In Greece, it is said that a girl is an orphan when she loses her mother, and that is the only word that names the protagonist in this Cinderella tale.
The cruel stepmother even counts the drops of water the orphan is permitted to drink. The orphan finds poetry and advice in her mother's voice at her grave, and Mother Nature gives her treasures, including a pair of blue shoes the color of the sea to wear on her tiny feet. When the prince comes to the village church one Sunday, the stepmother and stepsisters dress in all their finery, while the orphan is clothed in Mother Nature's gifts, with the Evening Star as a wreath on her long black hair. But the orphan must leave as soon as the church service ends. The next week, the prince has honey and wax poured on the church steps, so the orphan leaves a tiny blue shoe stuck there when she runs out. Potter's watercolors are limpid in color and fervent in line; the sweeping curve of the orphan's tresses plays as a motif through the images. Text pages are framed in grapevines, and the whole has the feel of folk painting: The Sun, Moon, Dawn and Star are instantly recognizable smiling folk-art figures. Several phrases repeat to keep the rhythm, and it ends, of course, with a wedding and a tantalizing "I was there, I should know."
There can never be too many Cinderellas—well, maybe there can, but definitely make room for this one. (Picture book/fairy tale. 5-8)Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
This retelling from the team behind Mr. Semolina-Semolinus: A Greek Folktale (1997) is close enough to the French version to satisfy young Cinderella-lovers, while sufficiently different to offer new color and interest. Cinderella's fairy godmother is replaced by Mother Nature and her many children (the Meadows give her three beautiful dresses; the Sea, tiny blue slippers). Details about Cinderella's bathwater (musk-scented), privations (her stepmother "counted every drop of water the orphan was allowed to drink"), and technique for escaping the prince's ball (she scatters gold coins to distract pursuers) establish authority, while help from Cinderella's dead mother, whose voice returns to Cinderella at crucial moments ("Go, my child, go to good,/ Don't cry and don't despair"), make the heroine's plight seem less lonely. The doll-like faces and stiff limbs of Potter's naïve-style watercolor figures suit the fairy-tale setting, and the pictures of tiny tailors and jewelers fawning before the pudgy stepsisters give the otherwise earnest story mordant humor. This Cinderella somehow seems more resourceful than her French counterpart, and her happy ending more dearly earned. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)[Page ]. Copyright 2010 PWxyz LLC
K-Gr 3--Simple yet lyrical storytelling combined with Potter's masterful watercolors brings this tale to life. An unnamed girl has been lovingly and tenderly cared for, but "as people say in Greece," "A child becomes an orphan when she loses her mother." A cruel stepmother and spoiled stepsisters make her life a misery, until she is driven to sob out her story over her mother's grave. Her mother's voice directs her to return home to await "true fortune's blessings." The next day, Mother Nature and her children bestow gifts upon her and adorn her in new finery, and she catches the eye of the prince at the church service. The oral storytelling style uses rhetorical questions and distinctive turns of phrase: "Go, my child, go to good, with all my blessings, go!" Potter's naïve style and brilliant colors and perspective heighten the drama and emotion throughout. This well-crafted variation is a welcome addition to the scores of fine "Cinderella" tales and deepens readers' understanding of the story's timeless appeal.--Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA[Page 125]. (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.