Library Books Enjoyed, 9/5/13

This week’s crop is a return to books we all definitely enjoyed:

Annabelle Swift KindergartnerAnnabelle Swift Kindergartner by Amy Schwartz

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I checked this out because I remembered enjoying it when I was in elementary school, and it seemed apt, with our oldest starting kindergarten. Both he and the three year old really liked it and asked for it to be reread a couple times.

While some details have definitely changed (most noticeably, the price of milk–although I’m impressed by how cheap milk still is!), the story has held up well over time. Annabelle’s nervousness about starting kindergarten, her frustration when her sister Lucy’s advice turns out to be unhelpful, and her eventual chance to shine still resonate.

Monkey See, Monkey DrawMonkey See, Monkey Draw by Alex Beard*

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a selection from books read aloud at storytime, and while it’s not a personal favorite, I appreciate its quality. The illustration style is unique, and I think the monkeys’ faces are a little creepy looking, but they didn’t bother my kids, and the pictures do incorporate hand, foot, and thumbprints in a way that’s fun. Also, I think the border drawings enhance the story.

Also, I think the story has a nice message, that not all games have to be competitions, but it doesn’t hit you over the head with the message. A fun choice all around.

Cinderella's RatCinderella’s Rat by Susan Meddaugh

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is one that we just happened upon when I was searching the catalog for more Cinderella stories for my three year old. It’s by Susan Meddaugh, who is more famous for her Martha books, but I like this one better than Martha. The rat is charming and sympathetic as he tells the story, and the way it turns out is completely unexpected. Also, it’s a fairly short fractured fairy tale. We just got it yesterday, and it’s already been reread several times.

View all my reviews

Cinderella Update

Here are some further thoughts about Cinderella versions that we recently checked out of the library:

The Egyptian CinderellaThe Egyptian Cinderella by Shirley Climo

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I *loved* this book as a child–I think partly because it was my first introduction to the idea that fairy tales can have different versions. Reading it to my kids as an adult, I still enjoy the story and the pictures, and I think it’s interesting that Climo did some research and that the story apparently has some (small) basis in history.

BUT, I think that there are some racial overtones that I didn’t pick up on as a kid and that I don’t like. Rhodopis, the Cinderella figure, is described as “red” and “rosy” (hence her name), because she burns under the Egyptian sun, but she is essentially a white heroine with brown bad guys. I don’t think the book should be altogether avoided; after all, the Pharoah who she marries is also Egyptian. Still, the overall casting and the description of Rhodopis’ coloring as “the most Egyptian of all” at the end of the story is something readers should be aware of.

One good way to share this might be to do it as part of a group of Cinderella retellings (and I actually checked it out most recently because of my 2 year old daughter’s current obsession with all things Cinderella) and be sure to include some of the versions that don’t have a white Cinderella: Yeh-Shen, Cendrillon, or The Rough Face Girl, for example.

CinderellaCinderella by Barbara McClintock

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a nice retelling of Perrault, and I think was a good update from Marcia Brown’s similar retelling. The pictures, although they show the characters in 17th century clothes, do look more modern in the style of artwork.

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Cendrillon: A Caribbean CinderellaCendrillon: A Caribbean Cinderella by Robert D. San Souci

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was an enjoyable French Caribbean version of Cinderella, and it was largely unique because it was told from the point of view of the godmother (who is not a fairy, but does have a magic wand). I liked the cultural details included–especially how it didn’t have just a generic Caribbean setting, but was obviously one of the French Caribbean islands–and I liked how magic was shown to have a definite limit on how it could help. Brian Pinkney does the pictures, and they work wonderfully with the story.

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Cinderella/CenicientaCinderella/Cenicienta by Francesc Boada

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a fine retelling of Perrault, and the pictures, while not stellar, are engaging. However, as a bilingual book, I don’t think it’s fabulous. It’s of course very long to be read in both languages in one sitting; the main problem, though, is that Cinderella is still obviously European (and not Spanish or otherwise Mediterranean), and it doesn’t highlight or celebrate Latino culture in any meaningful way.

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Cindy Ellen: A Wild Western CinderellaCindy Ellen: A Wild Western Cinderella by Susan Lowell

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I liked this one more than I expected to–I’ve never been a huge western fan, but the cowgirl-themed Cinderella retelling was just fun.

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We also checked out
Cinder-EllyCinder-Elly by Frances Minters

the rap version listed in the previous Cinderella post, and I think the kids all took turns looking at it–but it was very long, and I never got around to reading it.

A Selection of Cinderella Picture Book Retellings

One of my children is currently obsessed with Cinderella, and the others are willing to go along with it, so I’m looking up variants to share. The ones I list are mostly those that I’ve read and enjoyed myself, with a few that look fun thrown in. I’ve checked our local library for most of them, but some I could only find on Amazon at this point–the pub dates may be off because of it. There are TONS of Cinderella retellings in chapter book and adult book format, but I stuck to picture books this time, since that’s what level we are at for family reading right now.

The Egyptian Cinderella
By Shirley Climo
Illustrated by Ruth Heller
I loved reading this version as a kid–it must be from the Ptolemaic period, because Rhodopes, the Cinderella figure, is a Greek slave. Apparently, Climo has done Cinderella retellings from several other cultures. I would recommend checking any of these out, because she does a wonderful job with this one.

Princess Furball
Retold by Charlotte Huck
Illustrated by Anita Lobel
A variant on the well-known, glass slipper version, this one involves 3 (I believe? It’s been awhile, and our local library doesn’t have it!) dresses and a fur coat.

Yeh-Shen: A Cinderella Story from China
Retold by Ai-Ling Louie
Illustrated by Ed Young
Another one that I’ve loved since childhood; it has a fish for a fairy godmother, and Ed Young’s illustrations let you search for the fish in each page.

Cindy-Ellen: A Wild Western Cinderella
By Susan Lowell
Illustrated by Jane Manning
I know I’ve read this wild west version, but it wasn’t one that stayed with me. Still, I remember it being fun, and I think most kids will enjoy it.

The Rough-Face Girl
By Rafe Martin
Illustrated by David Shannon
An Algonquian version, also with great pictures, and has a nice ending if you like the sisters to get what’s coming to them (don’t worry, it’s perfectly kid-friendly).

Retold and illustrated by Barbara McClintock, from the Charles Perrault version
Haven’t read this one, but it looks like a nice updated retelling of Perrault (see the 1955 version below) that I will be looking for.

By Frances Minters
Illustrated by G. Brian Karas
Haven’t read this version, but it’s supposed to be a rap, and our library has it, so I will be requesting it!

Cinderella, or, The Little Glass Slipper
By Charles Perrault
Translated and Illustrated by Marcia Brown
This won the Caldecott Medal in 1955 and, despite showing its age (particularly in its length!), it’s a good basic retelling of the well-known French version. Just don’t let kids choose it for their bedtime selection if you are in a hurry for them to go to sleep!

Cinderella = Cenicienta
By Charles Perrault
Adapted by Francesc Boada
Illustrated by Monse Fransoy
This bilingual edition has the story in both Spanish and English, and while I don’t read Spanish (I can somewhat pronounce it, but it doesn’t flow), my children enjoyed this version quite well.

Cendrillon: A Caribbean Cinderella
by Robert D. San Souci
Illustrated by Brian Pinkney
Another one that I’ve read and remember enjoying, but don’t remember too many other details. The Creole background might appeal to those who also enjoyed Disney’s Princess and the Frog.

Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters: An African Tale
By John Steptoe
This one is amazing. There are no balls, but both Nyasha (the Cinderella figure) and her sister Manyara have to undertake a magical journey. It won a 1988 Caldecott Honor, and I happen to like it better than the actual medal winner for that year. (In case you’re wondering, the winner was Owl Moon, by Jane Yolen and John Schoenherr, also very good! Just not my favorite.)

My list seems pretty dated, so when I have the chance (you know, either in about 20 years, or when I get a paying librarian gig again) I will try to find some more recently published Cinderella stories.

A couple other lists, for those who want even more Cinderella:

ALA has a Multicultural Cinderella Stories list:

The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh has a nice list of Cinderella variants: