Robin Redbreast

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

Monday, January 17, 2011

Cinderella #17 Smoky Mountain Rose, an Appalachian Cinderella

Illustrations by Brad Sneed

Once upon a time, "smack in the heart o' the Smoky Mountains, there was this old trapper livin' in a log cabin with his daughter. One night, while Rose was fryin' a mess o' fish, the trapper, he starts lookin' dejected-like. " The long and the short of it was that he wondered if it wasn't hard on his girl, not having a mother around? And he wondered if she would mind if he married the neighbor lady? Rose answered, " I don't mind. You go a'courtin', Pa, if you think it's best. " So he did, and before she knew what she had said, Rose was sorry. Oh, was that neighbor lady mean, and her two daughters "why, they were so mean they'd steal flies from a blind spider. " They spent all day, every day, admiring themselves and calling each other names. And they were lazy too, making little Rose  work all day, " milkin' the cow, and collectin' the firewood and churnin' the butter. " Her dad hated to see her treated so badly, but it turned out that trying to to talk to his new wife " was like kickin' an agitated rattler. " So he held his tongue. And then the worst thing happened. One day, he died, leaving poor Rose all alone with the hateful lady and her horrible daughters. There was nothing to stop them now, and they mocked her and worked her and generally made her life a lot harder than it should have been. Many years passed. "Now, it so happens that on the other side of the creek, there was this real rich feller- made his fortune in sowbellies and grits. " And he was looking for a wife, so he got the idea to throw a fancy party and invite all the neighbors.  That's when Rose really began to feel sad: the sisters hooted and sneered at the idea of her going. " Lawd-a-mercy! Who'd want to dance with a dirt clod like you?" But oh, how they worked Rose to fix them up for it. When the day finally came she watched them, "whippin' the mule, the went a-rumbling down the dirt road, chortlin' out 'Skip to M'Lou' the whole time." Rose watched until she was alone, and then collapsed into tears. The sound of the far off fiddle music made all her sorrows flood over her. And that's when " one of the hogs comes moseyin' up to the fence and starts talkin' to her." He told her to " stand up and turn around real fast, like you got a whompus cat bitin' at yer' britches." This caused her raggedy overalls to become "the purtiest party dress " she had ever seen and instead of bare feet, sparkling glass slippers.  Next, the hog asked for " a mushmelon and two field mice" which she turned into a wagon and team of horses. Warning her that the magic would hold only until midnight, the hog sent her off the squaredance. When she got there she saw " two fiddlers, a harmonica man, even a square dance caller come all the way from Nashville." A hush fell over the crowd as Rose walked in, the rich man's eyes danced and he held out his arm to her. But her sisters said to each other, " Well, shut my mouth!" and "I ought to wring her neck, she's been going through my bood-whar!" But Rose couldn't hear them, and she danced the night away. Suddenly, she saw the "big grand daddy clock in the corner. 'Tarnation!' she cried, 'it's midnight!" and she fled. One of her slippers flew off into a ditch but she made it home with the other. Looking down, she saw her rags, and thanked the hog for her night of fun. " Anytime, Sugar!" it answered. That's when her stepmother and sisters got home, mad as hornets. "Aint you gonna whip her now, Ma?' asked Liza Jane. ' My whippin' arms tired, I'll do it tomorrow", said the old meanie, and they all went to bed. Lucky for Rose, the very next morning they all heard the news: " the rich feller' had found Rose's shoe and was stopping at every cabin to find its owner. Before they knew, rich Seb was there with the shoe. "Me first!" yelled Annie, the elder girl, and barged over. Seb tried his best to fit it, but " gettin' the slipper onto her big foot was like tryin' to stretch a little bitty sausage skin over a side o' beef." Shoving her sister out of the way, Liza Jane had a try, but "the minute the tuggin' started, she purt-near went blue in the face. 'Lemme get the axe' she said, a-gaspin'. 'I'll get that shoe on if it kills me!" That's when Seb saw Rose, hiding over near the hog pen. " Come over here and stick out yer foot" he said, " come on now, jest set yourself down on this here bucket and stick out yer tootsie." So Rose did, and that shining slipper " went glidin' right on, just as smooth as butter!" It was love at first sight of her feet in those shoes, and Seb proposed on the spot. Those mean old sisters saw the love shining between Seb and Rose, and "'pon seein' that, ...they done burst into tears." Rose, sweet girl that she was, forgave them for being cruel to her, and declared that she loved them " like soup loves salt", and from then on, all was well. And " to this day, Rose and Seb are still livin' there, and folks reckon they're 'bout the happiest twosome in all o' Tarbelly Creek."
Notes: This is a very localized version, using the vernacular of North Carolina and Tennessee. The reference to the square dance caller from Nashville places this solidly in Dolly Parton country! Schroeder says in the author's note that this version is based on the Charles Perrault's Cendrillon. He give a nice summary of the Ashpet, Cat Skin and Cap O-Rushes versions of the story too. The watercolors are incredible: check out the glass slippers on p. 13.
Montessori Connection: 6-9: Unfamiliar words. 1. Make a list of words in the story that you do not know. (critters, ornery, figgered, mushmelon, sarsaparilla, screeched). 2. Talk with a friend about what you THINK they might mean. 3. Try substituting other words for them in the same sentence. Does it make sense with a different word? What if you substitute watermelon for mushmelon? animals for critters?
9-12: Smoky Mountains and Dolly Parton. 1. Find the Smoky Mountains, in the Appalachian Mountain Range,  on a map of the United States, preferably a topographical map. 2. What state are they in? 3. Learn about Dolly Parton, a real country girl who went from rags to riches! Start by listening to her music, then read a biography of her.

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