Robin Redbreast

Robin Redbreast
Birds can represent the fluttering, darting thoughts of intuition. This is why little birds helped Cinderella help herself.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Cinderella #11 Hilary Knight's Cinderella (1978)

Charles Perrault
"Once upon  a time, long, long ago, there lived a  merchant, his beloved wife, and their beautiful little daughter.  They had been blessed with health, happiness and all the good things of life."  Their community was one of friendly neighbors and gently rolling hills. The king's palace was close by, and their the king lived with his wife, and his beloved little son, the prince.  But this sweet life came to a sudden end. The merchant's wife took sick one day, and died before the week was out. Father and daughter were left heartbroken, and for several years tried their best to go on. At last the merchant knew that it was time for him to seek a new wife, so he set to work looking.  He found a lady who seemed to fit the description of a good second wife. This local lady was of high social standing with two girls of her own, just a bit older than the merchant's child.  The little girl welcomed her new family members to her home.  Little did she know how soon all would change.  "Fate struck once more.  The merchant was lost at sea on one of his ships." And his daughter was left an orphan, with only her step mother for a guardian and her spiteful step sisters for company.  Once her father was dead, the girl was pushed into the role of servant.  She was made to work all day, and they ordered her around most unkindly.  " Fix the tea!  Wash the dishes! Sweep the ashes!" At the end of  a long day's work, the poor girl would flop down to rest in the warmth of the fire.  And for this the heartless girls nick-named her Cinderella.  The years passed by in this sorry state, and before long, all three sisters had grown to become young ladies.  One day, a large, heavy envelope arrived in the mail. Embossed with the king's initials, it was an invitation to a ball, summoning " all the eligible young ladies in the land. " The older girls squealed with glee but poor Cinderella remained silent. She had nothing but rags to wear, and would be laughed right out of the palace if she showed up underdressed.  Her sisters bickered and argued, snatched and tore the prettiest bits of laces and ribbons from  one another in their efforts to look beautiful.  When the great day arrived, Cinderella was kept buys from morning until night.  She had to draw the water for her sister's baths, and heat it up on the stove. She had to wash and comb out their long, long hair.  She had to help them hook and snap and button and lace many layers of clothing and petticoats.  When each had been dressed in a splendid and stylish gown they stalked off to the ball without so much as a "thank you. "  That's when the tears stated flowing.  "How I wish I could go to the ball! " Cinderella cried out...and somebody answered!  "Suddenly, into the kitchen flew a most extraordiary person", her very own fairy godmother. Hovering above the produce basket in her long blue dress, the elderly fairy told Cinderella that she would be rewarded for her kind heart by attending the ball afterall. But Cinderella moaned: she had nothing to wear and no way of traveling.  "No bother!" said the fairy. "We will find every thing we need right in the garden.  Bring me a pumpkin, one fat rat, two mice and four lizards. "   As Cinderella watched, the fairy worked her magic, chanting, " A plump orange pumpkin, I've been told, will make a fine carriage of crystal and gold.  Little mice, very nice!  They'll be two footmen in  a trice! Here, old rat! A playful pat! Now you're a coachman, jolly and fat! Lizards will complete our needs, they'll become four stamping steeds.  " Then she gave Cinderella an odd little shopping list, " Guinea fowl feathers and bottles of blue, mothwings and cobwebs sprinkled with dew! " The fairy said that she would "mix them with berries and sassafras and dress you in gossamer, with slippers of glass!". So she did, and Cinderella spun round in her tattered brown work dress over and over...until she was wearing a gown as light as the feather of  an insect.  It was blue, to match the  fairy godmother.  Pointing the way up the hillside to the palace, Cinderella got the standard warning about magic: watch the clock because it will all vanish at midnight. The ball was everything she imagined it would be. Everyone thought she was a mysterious princess from a faraway land, and nobody recognized her. Not even her sisters! The prince was a slightly chubby young man in white trousers and sky blue waistcoat, and he was enchanted by Cinderella. All evening long they danced until, suddenly, Cinderella remembered the time. The clock was already tolling twelve o'clock. She got out of there fast and made it halfway down the stairs before she fell, losing a shoe, as  " the spell vanished. Cinderella's gossamer gown disappeared.  When she looked for her carriage, there was only a shattered pumpkin shell. "  She grabbed the other glass slipper and dashed home.  Soon the sisters showed up, full of tales about the night, taunting their little sister with all she'd missed. When they said that the prince had fallen in love with the slipper wearing princess, and that he was searching far and wide for the girl who could wear it, Cinderella hid her smile.  After a long and frustrating search throughout the land, during which the prince observed more ways than he had ever imagined of cheating while trying a shoe on, the search party came to the right house. Of course first the oldest sister grabbed the shoe. But it was much too small. And then her younger sister demanded her turn, but "try as she might, she could not get the slipper on. "  That's when the prince "heard a familiar voice coming from the kitchen. 'Let me try!" said Cinderella. Her stepmother and sisters were horrified when she drew the other glass slipper from her pocket."  But the prince was happy. He recognized her immediately, and threw his arms around her! The wedding took place shortly thereafter, and Cinderella moved to the palace with the king. As for her stepmother and sisters, they decided that maybe their step sister (and daughter) wasn't so bad after all, and got to work making fruit platters, playing the lute, and generally helping out around the palace. So  Cinderella let them stay, and they all lived happily ever after. 

Notes: Hilary Knight  is one of my favorite illustrators.  You may be familiar with his drawings for the Eloise books.   His book is available in the Braille edition as well.
His pastel colors, depth of scenery and quaint costuming make this Cinderella a real delight. The facial expressions of our dear Cinderella and those of her snappy sisters will make you laugh. Those step sisters want so badly to be thought of as graceful and worthy of the prince, but they fight like dirty dogs in the mud to grab hold of the best family finery.  Wearing Bo Beep dresses, we can see their ruffled pantalette's and pointed shoes.  Look for the cat yowling through the air as a sister throws a dirty dish towards Cinderella.  This is anohter Perrault-esque version, as evidence by the fairy godmother and the helping animals. The pumpkin holds true, as does the rat coachman. But the mice are reduced from six to two and the lizards from six to four. Details at the palace lend themselves to inspired a study of architectural detail.  Curved marble staircases, statuary and sumptuous brocade drapes are everywhere!
Montessori Notes ages 6-12.  Fundamental Needs of human beings include food, shelter, clothing, transportation, communication and spiritual needs.  For children, meeting these needs without a parent is almost impossible. If both of a child's parents die, the child is called an orphan.  Even today, a child who is an orphan needs a lot of luck to have a good life.  Here is an old, spooky poem about a little orphan girl named Annie. She is not the same Annie that went to live with Daddy Wtarbucks. The poem was writtten by James Whitcomb Riley and published in 1926. Some of the slang and contractions might be a little hard to read, but try to do it anyway.  What do you think the moral of the poem is?

Little Orphant Annie
Little Orphant Annie's come to our house to stay,
An' wash the cups and saucers up an' brush the crumbs away.
An' shoo the chicken's off the porch, an' dust the hearth an' sweep,
An' make the fire an' bake the bread an' earn her board and keep.
An' all us other children, when the supper thing's is done,
We set around the kitchen fire an' has the mostest fun.
A'listening to the witch tales 'at Annie tells about,
An' the Gobble-uns ns that gits you Ef you Don't Watch Out!
Once't they was a little boy wouldn't say his prayers,
An' when he went to bed at night, away up stairs,
His mammy heerd him holler and his daddy heerd him bawl,
An' when they turnt the kivvers down, he wasn't there at all!
An' they seeked him in the rafter room and cubby hole and press,
An' seeked him up the chimbley flu an' everwheres', I guess.
But all they ever found was thist his pants and roundabout!
An' the Gobble-uns 'll git you Ef you Don't Watch Out!
An' one tine a little girl 'ud allus laugh and grin,
An' make fun of ever'one and all her blood and kin,
An' oncet, when they was "company" an' old folks was there,
She mocked 'em an' she shocked 'em and said she didn't care!
An' this as she kicked her heels, an' turn't to run and hide,
They was two great big Black Things a-standin' by her side.
An' they snatched her through the ceilin' fore she knowed what she's about,
An' the Gobble-uns 'll git you EF You Don't Watch Out!
An' Little Orphant Annie says, when the blaze is blue,
An' the lampwick sputters, and the wind goes woo-oo!
An' you hear the crickets quit and the moon is gray,
An' the lightnin' bugs in dew is all quenched away,
You better mind your parents an' your teachers, fond an' dear,
An' churish them 'at loves you, an' dry the orphant's tear,
An' help the pore an' needy ones, 'at cluster all about.
Er the Gobble-uns 'll git you EF YOU DON'T WATCH OUT!