Glass Slipper, Gold Sandal: A Worldwide Cinderella was published in 2007. It was written by Paul Fleischman and illustrated by Julie Paschkis. Fleischman tells the traditional Cinderella story with elements and variations from all over the world. It is beautifully illustrated and the way Fleischman intertwines so many different versions of Cinderella into one is truly brilliant.
The story begins with a little girl sitting on her mother’s lap while reading a book. The cover of the book looks suspiciously similar to Glass Slipper, Gold Sandal’s cover. We can assume that the mother is reading this same Cinderella story to her daughter. This Cinderella story follows the usual progression where Cinderella’s father marries a new woman with two daughters. The woman begins to treat Cinderella badly and makes her do all of the house work. She does not allow her much food to eat and she has no bed to sleep in. The part I found most different from any other version of Cinderella that I have heard before was when the animals and fairy gave her food to eat so she could be healthy. This of course made the stepmother even angrier and she gave Cinderella more chores and work to do. Then one day the stepmother and stepsisters leave to see the Great King in hopes of being his next queen. Cinderella desperately wanted to go also but was stuck at home doing the chores she was left to do. Then, a witch (not a fairy godmother) arrived to cast a spell on the cleaning supplies to clean themselves. As Cinderella tried to find something to wear, the animals and trees around her provided her with a beautiful kimono. My favorite line in the book was when Cinderella received her shoes:
“And on the girl’s feet appeared a pair of glass slippers… diamond anklets… sandals of gold.”
It perfectly encompasses the diversity of this story and the world. Next Cinderella gets her coach thanks to her now Aunty, and arrives at palace. She shocks everyone with her beauty and mysteriousness and the (now Prince) must dance with her at once. While they are dancing Cinderella remembers she needs to leave and when the Prince tries to grab her, her instead takes off her shoe. The ending is similar to most Cinderella stories where he goes searching for the woman who owned the shoe. On the Laos page, when he arrives at the stepmother’s house, the stepmother wraps up Cinderella in a mat and hides her. The shoe doesn’t fit any of the girls and just when he is about to leave a rooster tells him that the beauty is hidden down below. Alas, the shoe fits and they live happily ever after. The story comes full circle with the same mother and little girl in the beginning. On the last page, the mother and daughter are closing the Glass Slipper, Gold Sandal book with smiles on their faces.
Talk about a multicultural book! The countries represented in this book are Mexico, West Indies, Ireland, France, Germany, Poland, Russia, Iraq, Zimbabwe, Iran, India, China, Laos, Indonesia, Korea, Japan, and the Appalachia region of the United States. Each section of the page where text from that country is presented, the images and colors also reflect that country’s culture. I love that on the end papers there is a folk-art looking world map that labels all the places in the world featured in this book. It is like Fleischman was giving the reader a preview of all the places they were going to get to visit! My students would love to read this book and put their map skills to good use. On each page, the illustrations and text are bordered separately in color which closes us off from the story. Then the background behind the illustrations are one color and pattern whereas the page background is a contrasting bright color and different pattern. The images themselves, the background patterns, and the text, each tell their own story and yet work together to tell the same one. The illustrations promote visual literacy brilliantly. This book has a Victorian feel to it. The illustrations remind me of the beginning of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast movie because of the folk/Victorian feel and extremely bright, contrasting colors.
I believe this book will be a bit overwhelming for my second graders. They will enjoy the illustrations and the fact that it is a Cinderella story molded from variations around the world; but I think they will have a hard time following the connections between countries and the variations in the story itself. It may be difficult for them to comprehend with so many aspects changing constantly to show tribute to the various countries represented. But I would definitely use this story to help teach the story elements. I think the most beautiful thing about this book is that it celebrates all versions of Cinderella and that there is no right or wrong tale of the story. They just are all different.