The Orphan: A Cinderella story from Greece
Anthony L. Manna and Christodoula Mitakidou
Giselle Potter (illustrator)
Each year, the fifth graders do a literature study of fairy tales, and each year I scour the library for fractured tales - especially based on Cinderella. To my delight this year, I found this one. THE ORPHAN is a fun retelling based on two traditional Greek stories. In it, the Godmother is replaced by Mother Nature and her many children who bestow gifts on the young girl so that she may attend church services while the prince is visiting. The prince orders honey to be spread on the church steps, and the orphan loses her blue slipper (a gift from the sea). Unlike other tellings of the story, this Cinderella doesn't sit in a corner meekly waiting to be found by her prince. She takes matters into her own hands and presents herself to the prince. And they live happily ever after - naturally!
This was a great book for my students to compare to the original. It stayed true to the original French version (more than most, actually) and yet was different enough to keep the students interested. The notes that are included indicate that the authors told two stories but updated their heroine to make her more modern thinking. The watercolor pictures throughout the story are delightful; my students commented especially on how ugly the stepsisters were! I was enchanted by the pictures of Mother Nature and all her children.