Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Cinderella's Global Appeal

Cinderella stories are found all over the world. Its universal themes of jealousy, inequality, and the ultimate triumph of the underdog, span countries and traditions. According to Paul Fleischman, the earliest Cinderella story is attributed to ninth-century China and more than a thousand versions exist. Rather than presenting fractured fairy tales this time, I chose these three Cinderella stories for their multicultural appeal. Teachers can use these books to link language arts and social studies units. Enjoy!

Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters: An African Tale by John Steptoe - This African Cinderella story mixes familiar fairy tale elements with the unique details from a Zimbabwean folktale. This is a story that highlights the importance of being beautiful on the inside. The king, who is looking for a wife, uses his magical abilities to discern the true-self of each of Mufaro's daughters.

Adelita: A Mexican Cinderella Story by Tomie dePaola - DePaola combines Mexican folk art with his signature style to create the illustrations for this Cinderella tale. My favorite elements are the presence of a nurse as Adelita's long-time companion and the change from a glass slipper to a shawl. There is a Spanish glossary of phrases at the end to aid in translation.

Glass Slipper, Gold Sandal: A Worldwide Cinderella by Paul Fleischman; Illustrated by Julie Paschkis - This captivating book is a woven tapestry of story elements from 17 Cinderella tales from around the world. From Appalachia to Indonesia, Fleischman highlights the variations in storyline, such as how Cinderella got her clothes for the ball: "Then she looked in her mother's sewing basket. (Laos) Then she reached into the hole in the birch tree. (Russia) Then a crocodile swam up to the surface-- and in its mouth was a sarong made of gold... (Indonesia) ... a cloak sewn of kingfisher feathers... (China) ... a kimono red as sunset. (Japan)" Each voice that is used in the text matches the culture: "'And scour all the kitchen pots, too!' she hollered." (Appalachia) This book is a fascinating glimpse into a very multicultural Cinderella.


  1. Those sound great! Emily is very into Cinderella at this time, so a timely post for us!

  2. Very interesting! I had no idea there were so many Cinderellas! Thanks for sharing!