Tag Archives: Cinderella

Thursday’s Tale: C is for Cinderella

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C

C is for Cinderella, at the suggestion of Naida from …the bookworm… .

This illustration came from: Abbott, Elenore. Grimm's Fairy Tales. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1920.

This illustration came from: Abbott, Elenore. Grimm’s Fairy Tales. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1920.

“Cinderella” is one of those fairy tales that we all know or at least think we do. It’s also a story that’s been told in countless countries in countless ways.

I’ve read several versions over the years. The one I’m most familiar with was written by Charles Perrault around 1697. His story includes the evil stepmother, the fairy godmother, the pumpkin and animals being turned into the coach and servants, the glass slippers. The father is alive, just not present in the story. These fairy tale fathers and their lack of any kind of backbone is astonishing. How he could let his only child, the daughter of his dead wife, be abused in his own household, given the most menial chores, be lower than a servant?

I’ve also read Grimm’s version, which is entirely different, not the story I knew. Cinderellas’ mother dies and on her deathbed she promises, “Dear child, remain pious and good, and then our dear God will always protect you, and I will look down on you from heaven and be near you.”

And Cinderella is good, kind, visits her mother’s grave everyday and when her father remarries does all the work she is required to, puts up with every hurtful thing her pretty, mean stepsisters do to her. And she sleeps near the hearth in the ashes, thus earning her name. The father actually plays a part in this version. He doesn’t help Cinderella but he does bring back a twig from the fair like she requests, bringing her stepsisters the beautiful clothes and jewels that they asked for. Just want to repeat that. He brings Cinderella a stick, that’s all.

Cinderella plants the twig at her mother’s grave and it grows into a beautiful hazel tree. It’s here that Cinderella cries when she can’t go to the ball. A white bird brings here the dress and slippers that allows her to attend. This happens three nights in a row, each time the Prince spends the ball at her side, but when he attempts to escort her home she disappears. On the third night, of course, she leaves behind her golden slipper. The Prince comes to the home where he believes the mystery woman lives, and lets the stepsisters try on the shoe. The girls actually cut pieces off their feet so that they will fit, but a bird helps draw the prince’s attention to the blood streaming from the shoe each time. Why you need a bird to tell you a person is bleeding a lot, I’m not really sure. Finally, Cinderella’s foot fits the shoe and the prince recognizes her.

The prince, however, took Cinderella onto his horse and rode away with her. As they passed by the hazel tree, the two white pigeons cried out:

Rook di goo, rook di goo!
No blood’s in the shoe.
The shoe’s not too tight,
This bride is right!!

After the wedding, pigeons peck the stepsisters’ eyes out. One on the way into the service, one on the way out. Nothing like a little revenge, and Cinderella didn’t even have to take care of it herself. It’s a shame nothing happened to the father, really.

That’s way bloodier than the version I remember, although it does have helpful animals, a staple in Disney’s version. But no fairy godmother, although the horrible stepmother and uncaring father are still there.

Ashpet is a version of Cinderella retold as a picture book by Joanne Compton and illustrated by Kenn Compton. It’s a cute Appalachian version of the story that takes place near fictional Eagle’s Nest Mountain. Ashpet is a servant who has no family. She is hired out to a widow with two daughters. Instead of a ball, it’s the big church meeting and the prince is actually a doctor’s son. The Fairy Godmother is replaced by old Granny, an odd neighbor who has a little magic of her own. Ashpet is kind to Granny and is rewarded. She’s also pretty clever, leaving her shoe behind on purpose. There’s no blood in this version, thank goodness, but there is a helpful crow and a happy ending.

“As for Ashpet and the doctor’s son, from then on, they were as happy as could be.”

I have a soft spot for Appalachian stories and this one made me smile throughout. It’s a little goofy, but a truly enjoyable retelling, a wonderful picture book to share with kids.

Purchase: Amazon

Thursday’s Tales is a weekly event here at Carol’s Notebook. Fairy tales, folktales, tall tales, even re-tellings, I love them all.

Reposted from March, 2010. I don’t usually do reposts but Cinderella was just too perfect for “C.”

Thursday’s Tale: Fair, Brown & Trembling by Jude Daly

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Fair Brown and Trembling

Fair, brown and trembling

Fair, Brown & Trembling retold by Jude Daly is a traditional Irish fairytale, similar to Cinderella. It’s a wonderful change-up from the usual fairy tales and would be a nice read-aloud around St. Patrick’s Day.

Three sisters, Fair, Brown, and Trembling, and their father live in a castle high in the hills of Ireland. Terrible names for daughters, don’t you think? Their mother had died. Since Trembling was the most beautiful, her older sisters made her stay at home instead of going to church on Sundays, for fear that she would marry before them. One sunday morning, the henwife told Trembling she should go to church; when she objected that she had no suitable dress, the henwife put on her”cloak of darkness” and gae her a lily-white gown and shamrock-green shoes. Outside a horse was waiting for Trembling. The henwife told Trembling not to go inside the church door and to return home as fast as she can immediately after the service. That “cloak of darkness” is interesting. Is it a trademark of Irish stories? Does she become a witch when she puts it on? Is it dark as in evil, which might explain why Trembling can’t enter the church door. Trembling stood just outside the door through the mass, and although all the men admired her and wondered who she was, she rode home quickly and got away before any man came near her. After two more Sundays, three total, the prince of Emania, who had stayed outside during the service, reached out as she passed and grabbed one of her shoes when she passed him.

The prince announced that he would marry the lady whose foot fit the slipped, but all the other princes wanted to marry the beautiful women too. They agreed they would fight for her once they found her. They searched all over, and when they came to the sisters’ castle. The sister had locked Trembling into a cupboard, but she called out and the prince insisted on seeing her too. The shoe fit and the prince said at once that she was the woman.

The sons of three foreign kings fought him for her, but the king’s son defeated them all. So the Prince and Trembling got married. They were happy ever after and had fourteen children.

As for Fair and Brown, they were put to sea with provisions and never seen again.

I like this variation of the story, with the gathering place of the church rather than a ball. And the illustrations in this particular version are lovely, brightly colored, and while we don’t see the fighting, we are shown one woman who attempted to fit into the shoe by cutting off her toe. Let’s be honest, kids tend to like a little harmless gore, at least mine always did.

You can purchase a used copy of Fair, Brown and Trembling on Amazon or see if your library has it.

Thursday’s Tales is a weekly event here at Carol’s Notebook. Fairy tales, folktales, tall tales, even re-tellings, I love them all.

Thursday’s Tale: Why the Sea Moans

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Why the Sea Moans

Painting by Lisa Hunt from The Fairy Tale Tarot

“Why the Sea Moans” is a Brazilian tale, similar to Cinderella, but with a rather depressing ending. The title is actually what grabbed me first, beautiful, sad, I had to know the story behind it.

A lonely little princess lived in a palace and had no other children to play with. One thing she loved was to sit in the corner of the garden and watch the sea, which seemed to say her name as it hit the shore, “Di-o-ny-si-a.” One day the little princess, sitting all alone as usual, wished she had a living thing to play with her, even if it couldn’t be another child. And of course, this being a fairy tale, her wish was granted. Out of the waves came a sea serpent, but it didn’t’ look like a monster, it seemed kind and gentle. It told the little girl its name was Labismena and it had come to play with her. The two played together and the years passed until, when Dionysia was 16, the serpent told her that it had grown older too and could no longer come and play, but that if Dionysia ever needed her help she just needed to call her name and she would come.

Soon a neighboring king, whose queen had died, wanted to marry Dionysia, but Dionysia was against the idea. Her father gave her no choice, though, and she went to the sea shore and called for Labismena. Three times Labismena told the princess to request a gift from the king, each time a dress of a different color, the color of the fields, the color of the sea, and the color of the sky and all its stars. The king gave each dress to the Princess, and finally the Princess took all three dresses down to the shore, where Labismena had built a little boat for her. The serpent told Dionysia that the boat would take her across the water to the kingdom of the most charming prince in the world. When the princess asks how she can thank her, Labismena replies. “”You can do the greatest thing in the world for me…though I have never told you and I do not believe that you have ever suspected it, I am really an enchanted princess. I shall have to remain in the form of a sea serpent until the happiest maiden in all the world, at the hour of her greatest happiness, calls my name three times. You will be the very happiest girl in all the world on the day of your marriage, and if you will remember to call my name three times then you will break my enchantment and I shall once more be a lovely princess instead of a sea serpent.”

Dionysia arrived on the island and takes a job taking care of the hens at the royal palace. However, there’s a great celebration and three nights in a row Dionysia goes to the festa, wearing each of her three dresses. She catches the prince’s eye and eventually the prince discovers her identity and they marry. Dionysia is happy beyond her dreams, but she forgot her promise to Labismena.

“There was no escape for Labismena. She had to remain in the form of a sea serpent because of Dionysia’s neglect. She had lost her chance to come out of the sea and become a lovely princess herself and find a charming prince of her own. For this reason her sad moan is heard in the sea until this very day. Perhaps you have noticed it.

You will often hear the call come from the sea as it breaks against the shore, “Dionysia, Di-o-ny-si-a.” No wonder that the sea moans. It is enough to make a sea serpent sad to be forgotten by the very person one has done most to help.”

First a couple of things to note, the standard fairy tale bits. The number three comes up several times, fairy tales do love threes. And even though the story comes from a different culture, it does have a lot of similarity to Cinderella. Dionysia goes to the ball, with help, in this case from the sea serpent, but doesn’t let anyone know she is the lowly hen maiden. The prince falls in love, knowing little about her, but of course they marry and are happy.

Labismena’s story is so sad though. Trapped in the form of a sea serpent, she finally finds another princess to play with, but eventually the princess grows too old to visit anymore. Children are so much more likely to believe in magic, to believe monsters can really be friends. And then, when her friend is desperate she helps her in every way she can, freely. She doesn’t tell Dionysia about the spell until after all her help has been provided, until the events that will make Dionysia happy have been set into motion. And then her dearest friend, her only hope, forgets about her. Sure, Dionysia remembered her when she needed her, but not when she was totally happy. It was such a small thing to do, but she forgot. Honestly, it’s a story I’ll remember next time I’m at the shore, when I hear the water hitting the beach or the rocks.

You can read the story several places on-line. I read the version from Fairy Tales from Brazil by Elsie Spicer Eells, published 1917, found here.

Thursday’s Tales is a weekly event here at Carol’s Notebook. Fairy tales, folktales, tall tales, even re-tellings, I love them all.

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