Once upon a time . . .

there was a girl whose father remarried a woman who had two daughters.  The two daughters expected this girl to do everything for them–clean, wash, scrub, sweep–and when those chores were done, she would creep to the chimney corner and sit in the ashes . . . sound familiar?!? . . .  You’re right, Cinderella!  There are more than 400 versions of this traditional fairy tale.

One of the versions is translated from the French by Charles Perrault.  It won the Caldecott Medal in 1955 and is simply titled Cinderella, or the Little Glass Slipper.  In this version, Cinderella’s first nickname is Cinderseat.  However, her younger step-sister, who wasn’t as rude as the elder, gave her the name Cinderella, and Cinderella she was.

As her godmother helped her prepare for the ball, a pumpkin was changed into the coach, six mice became dappled-grey horses, a rat was turned into the coachman and six lizards became the footmen.  Her rags were changed into a gown of gold and silver, embroidered with rubies, pearls and diamonds and, to top it off, a pair of little glass slippers, the prettiest in the world.

She made it home safely after the first night’s ball, however, the second night she was so charmed by the prince that she forgot her godmother’s warning and was horrified when she heard the first strike of midnight.  In her haste, she lost one of her glass slippers.  The prince found the slipper and gazed at it during the rest of the ball.

A few days later, “the King’s son had his herald sound throughout the land that he would marry her whose foot would fit the slipper.”  So, all of the princesses, duchesses and ladies of the court tried it on, but to no avail.  When it was brought to the two sisters, they tried to force it on their feet but could not.  Cinderella looked on intently.  When she asked to try it, there was only mockery and laughter, however, as you all know, it fit her perfectly and she pulled the other slipper out of her pocket and put it on.

Suddenly her godmother appeared, changed her rags into a costume more magnificent than before; her stepsisters begged forgiveness when they saw her and Cinderella asked them to love her always.

A few days later Cinderella was married to the prince and being the good person that she was, gave her sisters a home at the palace and had them married to two lords of the court.

Does this sound like the version you know?

I recently attended a conference where many different versions of Cinderella were presented.  It ended with this jump rope rhyme:

Cinderella dressed in yella, Went downtown to meet her fella, On her way her girdle busted, How many people were disgusted?

That’s not exactly how I remember it from my childhood!–it’s just part of the folk process!  Stay tuned for more variants of Cinderella.

About Kathy

Senior Librarian, Children's Dept, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
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One Response to Once upon a time . . .

  1. Sheila says:

    How about…”my, my, my, were we disgusted?

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