Selected and annotated by Emily Bayci
Climo, Shirley, ad. The Egyptian Cinderella; illus. by Ruth Heller. Crowell, 1989. 32p. 5-8 yrs.
Rhodopis is a Greek girl stolen by pirates and sold as a slave in Egypt, where she’s constantly teased about her looks by the servants. The pharaoh stumbles upon one of her rosy-gold slippers, and he searches for Rhodopis and finally marries her. The tale depicts life in ancient Egypt through rich details and Egyptian-style illustrations. It is based partially on a true story—a slave named Rhodopis really did marry Pharaoh Amasis—and partially on folk legends, proving that the Cinderella story dates at least 2,500 years back.
Coburn, Jewell Reinhart, ad. Jouanah: A Hmong Cinderella; written by Jewell Reinhart Coburn with Tzexa Cherta Lee, illus. by Anne Sibley O’Brien. Shen’s, 1996. 32p. Gr. 4-6.
Jouanah is mistreated by her stepmother and stepsister, but a gentle cow (actually her dead mother) comes to her aid, and eventually the son of the village elder rescues her. This story—available in English, Hmong, and Spanish editions—provides insight into aspects of Hmong culture.
Daly, Jude ad. Fair, Brown and Trembling: An Irish Cinderella Story; ad. and illus. by Jude Daly. Farrar, 2000. 27p. 5-8 yrs.
There is no royal ball or evil stepmother in this variant of Cinderella from the Emerald Isle. Trembling is the forgotten third sister, who looks less stunning than her sisters at Sunday mass, but an old henwife turns Trembling into a stunning young woman who has the suitors lining up. Stereotypes of Chinese, Spanish, and African suitors do detract, but this is a well-told tale, having the typical ending with a few twists.
DePaola, Tomie. Adelita: A Mexican Cinderella Story; written and illus. by Tomie DePaola. Putnam, 2012. 34p. 5-9 yrs.
A shawl replaces the traditional glass slipper in this Mexican variant of the Cinderella tale. Despite the jealousy of her stepmother and stepsisters, Adelita wins Javier’s heart at the fiesta. He finds her shawl and, eventually, Adelita. Spanish phrases and Mexican folk art complement the variant.
Greene, Ellin, ad. Billy Beg and His Bull; illus. by Kimberly Bulcken Root. Holiday House, 1994. 32p. 5-8 yrs.
In this gender-switched story, a boy is the object of his stepmother’s wrath while a princess hunts for the owner of a lost shoe. Based in Irish storytelling tradition, this selection has folk elements of a flying bull, a multi-headed giant, and a fire-breathing dragon.
Han, Oki S., ad. Kongi and Potgi: A Cinderella Story from Korea; ad. by Oki S. Han and Stephanie Haboush Plunkett, illus. by Oki S. Han. Dial, 1996. 32p. 5-8 yrs.
Kongi spends her days working hard for her stepmother and stepsister, Potgi. An ox, a frog, and sparrows help her dress up for the palace party. The colorful costumes contribute to a Korean mise-en-scène, and the animals correlate to the Western variants of Perrault, Grimm, and Disney.
Huck, Charlotte, ad. Princess Furball; illus. by Anita Lobel. Greenwillow, 1989. 40p. 5-8 yrs.
This English tale, inspired by “Catskin” and the Grimms’ “Many Furs,” relates the journey of a girl who flees home after her father orders her to marry an ogre. She becomes a kitchen maid and captures the king’s heart with assistance from her dead mother.
Jaffe, Nina, ad. The Way Meat Loves Salt: A Cinderella Tale from the Jewish Tradition; illus. by Louise August. Holt, 1998. 32p. 6-9 yrs.
Eastern European Jewish culture is vividly depicted through text and pictures showcasing Mireleh, a rabbi’s daughter who is driven from her house after telling her father that she loves him how “meat loves salt.” The daughter is found again after a young man traces her magic shoe back to her, and she is reunited with her father at the wedding where meat is served without salt.
Hickox, Rebecca, ad. The Golden Sandal: A Middle Eastern Cinderella Story; illus. by Will Hillenbrand. Holiday House, 1998. 32p. 5-8 yrs.
A young Iraqi girl named Maha spends her days working for her stepmother and stepsister. Her hard work pays off when a magic fish gives her a gown of silk and golden sandals to wear to a wedding. The everyday characters, comedic wording, and realistic illustrations give the book a relatable feel.
Ketteman, Helen. Bubba the Cowboy Prince: A Fractured Texas Tale; illus. by James Warhola. Scholastic, 1997. 32p. 6-9 yrs.
In this Cinderella-style story, Bubba is the hero, and his fairy godcow is the answer that helps him make it to Miz Lureen’s ball. The folksy language and comedic illustration truly give this book a wild western feel.
Manna, Anthony, L. The Orphan, A Cinderella Story from Greece; by Anthony L. Manna and Soula Mitakidou, illus. by Giselle Potter. Schwartz and Wade, 2011. 40p. 5-8 yrs.
A Greek proverb states, “A child becomes an orphan when she loses her mother.” The black-haired Mediterranean girl in this book is an orphan by that definition, and in addition to the typical Cinderella struggles she must contend with having Mother Nature as a stepmother.
Martin, Rafe, ad. The Rough-Face Girl; illus. by David Shannon. Putnam, 1992. 32p. 5-8 yrs.
A young Algonquin girl known as the Rough-Face Girl is scarred with burnt hands and face from being forced to continually tend to the fire. She wishes to marry the Invisible Being, and she is tested by his sister and eventually found worthy. This Native-inspired tale is similar to the European variant except it’s truthfulness and vision, not small feet, that the heroine must prove to have.
Perrault, Charles. Cinderella: or, The Little Glass Slipper; illus, by Marcia Brown. Scribner, 1954. 32p. Gr. 2-4.
A famous, though standard, translation of Cinderella is paired with elegant pastel-colored illustrations to capture the fairytale essence of the distinguished story in this Caldecott-winning picture book.
San Souci, Robert, ad. Cendrillon: A Caribbean Cinderella; illus. by Brian Pinkney. Simon, 1998. 40p. 5-8 yrs.
The familiar Cinderella elements of a wicked stepmother, cruel stepsister, carriage, gown, and lost slipper are all present in this Caribbean tale, but they’re enhanced by rhythmic language, elements of West Indian culture, and a down-to-earth narration from Cendrillon’s godmother. Creole words, such as nannin’ for godmother, are defined in a glossary.
Schroeder, Alan. Smoky Mountain Rose: An Appalachian Cinderella; illus. by Brad Sneed. Dial, 1997. 32p. 5-7 yrs.
Rose enlists the help of a hog to contend with her stepmother and stepsisters in order to make it to the big party. This fast-paced story is told in strong dialect; an author’s note deems it an Appalachian tale, although it echoes Perrault’s version.
Sierra, Judy, ad. The Gift of the Crocodile: A Cinderella Story; illus. by Reynold Ruffins. Simon, 2000. 40p. 6-9 yrs.
In this variant set in the Spice Islands, Damura calls out to the river for help one day while doing chores for her wicked stepmother and stepsister. Grandmother Crocodile rises to the challenge and outfits Damura in a sarong of gold, with matching slippers. Damura’s jealous family pushes her into the river where no one other than Grandmother Crocodile swallows her up, offering a unique twist on the tale.
Silverman, Erica. Raisel’s Riddle; illus. by Susan Gaber. Farrar, 1999. 34p. 6-10 yrs.
Raisel is a servant in a rabbi’s home, and the mean cook keeps her from the Purim holy day events. When Raisel helps an old woman, she is granted three wishes. She makes it to the party and wins the rabbi’s son heart with her wisdom after telling the son a riddle in this version that draws on Jewish folklore.
Steptoe, John. Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters: An African Tale; written and illus. by John Steptoe. Lothrop, 1987. 30p. 5-8 yrs.
Good and generous Nyasha is pitted against her spoiled and selfish sister Manyara to become the king’s bride in this story set in Zimbabwe. Disguised as a snake, the king sees the sisters’ true natures, and Nyasha wins the prince. The south African setting and animal-groom motif offer a unique perspective.