Reviews for Gift of the Crocodile : A Cinderella Story


Booklist Monthly Selections - #1 January 2001
Ages 4-8. Set in the Spice Islands, this Indonesian version of the Cinderella story has Damura as the beautiful, ill-treated stepchild, and, instead of a fairy godmother, a river crocodile is the magical helper. Sierra tells the story with simple drama, and Ruffins' handsome acrylic illustrations on watercolor paper set the tale on a tropical island with rich colors and folk art-style figures in a vibrant theatrical design. A full folklore note discusses the sources for the story and connects the tale with other Cinderella motifs. This time, the wicked stepmother and stepsister continue to hurt Cinderella even after she has married the prince, but Grandmother Crocodile saves Damura again so the girl and her prince live for many years in great splendor and happiness. A storytelling treat. --Hazel Rochman Copyright 2001 Booklist Reviews

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2001 Spring
A mother's deathbed reminder that her daughter should respect all wild animals is honored and rewarded, bringing the animals' protection and, of course, a prince for a husband. This Indonesian folktale contains many familiar elements as well as some non-European motifs (a crocodile fairy godmother). The unadorned retelling is straightforward; Ruffins's brightly colored, patterned paintings evoke the story's Southeast Asia island setting. Copyright 2001 Horn Book Guide Reviews

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Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2001 #1
In this folktale from the Moluccas, a mother's deathbed reminder that her daughter Damura respect all wild animals is honored and rewarded, bringing the daughter the animals' protection and, of course, a prince for a husband. As Sierra states in her exemplary source note, this Indonesian "Cinderella" story contains many familiar elements (cruel stepmother and stepsister, a dance, a lost slipper) as well as some non-European motifs (the crocodile fairy godmother). The story begins when a widowed neighbor, who is attracted to young Damura's father, offers the girl a beautiful doll if she persuades her father to remarry. Damura can't resist and thus inadvertently brings about her own unhappiness. Her heartless stepmother and stepsister's cruelty leads Damura to call on the animals for help: a crocodile recognizes the girl's kind heart and comes to her rescue. When the prince announces a dance, Damura naturally calls on Grandmother Crocodile for some magical assistance. Sierra's unadorned retelling is straightforward; the less familiar plot elements give the story some flavor and momentum. Ruffins's brightly colored, patterned paintings, with their angular figures and wavy landscapes, express and evoke the story's island setting. Some of the illustrations intensify dramatic moments by focusing on one character; others suggest mood and a magical atmosphere. This Southeast Asian variation adds some tropical zest to the oft-told tale. Copyright 2001 Horn Book Magazine Reviews

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Kirkus Reviews 2000 October #2
A reptilian "fairy godmother" provides more than fine clothing for this Indonesian Cinderella. Beguiled by a widowed neighbor's gift, young Damura persuades her father to remarry. Subsequently forced into servitude, her distress draws an ancient crocodile--who, because she behaves with proper respect, not only furnishes her with lovely sarongs, but brings her back to life after her stepmother and stepsister feed her to another crocodile. Ruffins (Running the Road to ABC, 1996, Coretta Scott King Honor) sets long-limbed, colorfully clad figures into bright, open tropical settings, ably capturing Damura's sadness, her stepsister's disagreeable nature, even the crocodile's solicitude with clearly drawn expressions and body language. Sierra tells the tale simply and fluidly, closing with a note on her source (a Dutch collection of Spice Island folktales), and on Cinderella tales in general. The story itself follows a familiar track, even to the lost slipper, but the exotic setting, plus several humorous touches, set it apart from the rest of this year's crowd. (Picture book/folk tale. 6-9) Copyright 200 Kirkus Reviews

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2000 November #2
Setting this colorful story in the Spice Islands, Sierra (Nursery Tales Around the World) incorporates motifs found in Cinderella folktales from various parts of the world as well as elements of Diamonds and Toads-type fables. Overworked by her conniving stepmother and stepsister, Damura one day loses her tattered sarong in the river. When a crocodile responds to her pleas for help, Damura remembers her late mother's advice to treat wild creatures with respect. She talks politely with Grandmother Crocodile, who fetches for her "a silver sarong that sparkled like the night sky." Damura's deceitful stepsister soon pretends she has lost a sarong, too, in hopes of receiving an equally lovely new one, but the crocodile gives her a sarong that turns into a filthy rag swarming with leeches. Later, when the prince invites all the young women to dance for him at the palace, the crocodile produces a sarong of pure gold for Damura, plus slippers to match. A few departures from the standard Cinderella story will keep readers on their toes. Sierra's confident delivery finds its match in Ruffins's (Running the Road to ABC) primitivist acrylic art, which captures the lush vegetation, sparkling multitoned waters and the people's patterned clothing while retaining an essential calm and spareness. Strategic use of spot art and small silhouettes in addition to full-page and full-spread compositions creates a visual syncopation. Even with an abundance of available Cinderella stories, this version is memorably vivid. Ages 4-8. (Nov.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

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School Library Journal Reviews 2000 November
K-Gr 4-A handsome Cinderella variant from the Spice Islands. Young Damura is advised by her dying mother to be kind to all wild creatures. Later on, in an interesting twist, the girl is bribed with a doll to plead her would-be stepmother's case to her father. After the marriage, she is mistreated by the woman and her daughter. She loses her old sarong while washing laundry in the river. Hearing her sobs, a crocodile offers to retrieve it if the girl will rock her baby, and returns with a silver dress. When the greedy sister tries the same thing but is cruel to the baby and crisp with Grandmother Crocodile, she wins a leech-covered rag. Years later, when a prince seeks a bride, the stepsister wears the silver dress but Grandmother Crocodile supplies Damura with the essentials. After the prince claims his bride with a lost slipper and the two are married, the jealous stepmother and her daughter push Damura into the river where she is eaten by a crocodile. In a funny sequence, Grandmother confronts her river children and a fat crocodile is forced to cough out Damura. Ruffins's handsome acrylic paintings reflect the Indonesian love of color and pattern. Page design varies to include bordered illustrations, vignettes, and several eloquent silhouettes. Sierra's retelling is strong and fun to read aloud.A useful author's note sorts out variations in motifs across cultures. A fine addition to the groaning shelf of Cinderella stories.-Susan Hepler, Burgundy Farm Country Day School, Alexandria, VA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

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