Friday, January 12, 2007

Cinderella creator's birthday

Charles Perrault, born on this day in 1628, is credited with capturing the classic European version of the Cinderella story so familiar to us. So, for a change of pace, I thought I might feature my favorite Cinderella poem. This one is by Judith Viorst, author of the classic picture book, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.


By Judith Viorst

I really didn’t notice that he had a funny nose.
And he certainly looked better all dressed up in fancy clothes.
He’s not nearly as attractive as he seemed the other night.
So I think I’ll just pretend that this glass slipper feels too tight.

From: If I were in charge of the world and other worries

The European tale of Cinderella or the “good sister/bad sister” story told in cultures all around the world may be the most adapted, retold, and reillustrated folktale in children’s literature. There are culturally rich versions as well as nonsensical modernized renditions to choose from. Roald Dahl wrote a rhyming parody in his Revolting Rhymes collection and Shel Silverstein turned his attention to the tale with this gem.


by Shel Silverstein

From dusk to dawn,
From town to town,
Without a single clue,
I seek the tender, slender foot
To fit this crystal shoe.
From dusk to dawn,
I try it on
Each damsel that I meet.
And I still love her so, but oh,
I've started hating feet.

from A Light in the Attic

Cinderella is such a part of Americans’ literary heritage that phrases like “if the shoe fits,” “Cinderella complex,” and “until the stroke of midnight” are part of their everyday vernacular. Folklorists have identified more than 3,000 stories that qualify as Cinderella variants worldwide; almost every culture, every nation, has at least one variant, one authentic tale with Cinderella-style characters and motifs. What is it about this girl’s story that has such appeal across generations of listeners and readers, and also across so many countries and cultures?


Elaine Magliaro said...


Kelly is doing the Poetry Friday roundup at Big A little a this week.

Here are titles of two poetry books you might be interested in reading:

CINDERELLA'S DRESS, which is a book-length poem written by Nancy Willard and illustrated by Jane Dyer.

IF THE SHOE FITS: VOICES FROM CINDERELLA, which was written by Laura Whipple. It's a collection of original poems in which different characters from the Cinderella story speak to readers.
Titles of poems include Stepmother's Rhythm, The Prince Grumbles, The Rat's Ride, and The Stepsisters' Reprise.

I like the two poems you shared today. I always shared them with my second grade students when we were reading different versions of the Cinderella tale. One of my favorite versions is Judy Sierra's THE GIFT OF THE CROCODILE.

Kyra said...


The Cinderella theme also extends to quilts! I made a quilt featuring an African American Cinderella sitting on the steps of the palace with her bare feet extended. The words on the quilt said "Let's cut to the chase... I wear size 9!" Here' a link to the image.

author, "Martha Ann's Quilt for Queen Victoria" (2007)