Robin Redbreast

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

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Cinderella #23 The Gospel Cinderella

Once upon a time, deep in the swamp, "Queen Mother Rhythm, leader of the Great Gospel Choir" lived with her little, bitty baby girl.  She sang her child lullabies " in  a voice as flavorful as licorice." But one day, just as her darling little daughter fell asleep, "a hurricane came up out of nowhere. It knocked Queen Mother Rhythm off her feet and swept the sleeping baby downstream and out of reach and out of sight. " How her mama searched for her! Oh, for days she cried, and hunted. She looked for weeks, and then for months and she never stopped looking for her child but never did find her. She kept on singing though, and her voice became "thick with sorrow and joy. Sorrow over the loss of her child and joy over the blessed relief she found in the music." Now, somebody found that child. Crooked Foster Mother, who lived over on the other end of the swamp found her. And since she had two girls already ( a mean pair of twins called Hennie and Minnie) she grabbed the child up saying, " I sure don't need another mouth to feed, but what I could use is another hand in the kitchen. And seein' as how you're as dirty as a cinder pile, I guess I'll call you Cinderella. " So she did, and as soon as Cinderella was tall enough to reach a pot and hold a spoon she put her to work. The years passed, and soon the girl did all "the cleaning, the sewing and the cooking. Every day, Cinderella had to make ten sweet potato pies and ten pots of collard greens, which Crooked Foster Mother and the twins" gobbled. All Cinderella got was the green pot liquor from the bottom of the stewpot. But that was loaded with vitamins! So she grew strong, though she longed for more in life than hard work and pot liquor. Still, she found that if sang while she worked it made it easier, and the years slipped by and Cinderella grew to be a beautiful young lady. Hennie and Minnie grew too.  They became young ladies with sneering faces and sour voices. "Meanwhile, back on the other side of the swamp, Queen Mother Rhythm decided it was time to find a new lead singer for the Great Gospel Choir. 'I'm ready to retire' she told her piano-playing Prince of Music. So all the musicians made signs and stickers calling for gospel singers to audition for the part. That's when Hennie and Minnie made Cinderella teach them to sing. But try as she did, and trust me, she did, they still "sang the notes whop-sided". Well, it would have to do, said Crooked Foster Mother. She told her girls to get a good night's rest, and she ordered Cinderella to stay up all night and make them  new dresses. Or else! So she did. The dresses were pretty, even if the twins weren't, and the next evening, they headed for the Gospel Convention. Leaving Cinderella home alone, of course. And that's when she heard the singing. Lovely gospel music, though she ccouldn't figure out where it was coming from. But she "followed the voice through the swamp. She went right past the hungry crocodiles lying by the river and reached boldly but carefully around their smacking lips to pick wildflowers for her hair. She followed the voice over a dangerous pit of quicksand, leaping up to collect swamp vines which she braided into a lovely belt to wear around her waist. " And, wrapped in greenery and flowers, she blended right into the scenery, and that is how she was able to sneak into the back of the Gospel Convention. Sitting way in the back row, she watched the whole audition. The stood Queen Mother Rhythm, nodding to the Prince of Piano. He would strike a note, a girl would open her mouth, and ...the queen mother  would shake her head: No. She knew what she wanted to hear, and she was not hearing it. Finally it was time for old Hennie and Minnie to sing. Those two croaked and quacked and looked like they each thought the other was singing like a little bird. But, they weren't, and they were hooted back to their seats. Oh, was Crooked Foster Mother mad. But Queen Mother Rhtythm was so very sad: every girl had sung, but no one had the voice she wanted. And that's when she heard the humming. It got louder and sweeter and closer with every note, as Cinderella started singing in the back row and made her way all the way to the front, singing, "From a cup set before me, I sip sorrow each day. Every time I swallow, I find sorrow's come to stay. Then flavors of joy I taste in my cup, easing my pain and lifting me up. "  Queen Mother Rhythm's face shown with joy...but Crooked Foster Mother's face was red with anger. That's when Cinderella made a break for it. "We heard her, but we lost her!" declared the Queen Mother,and she sent the Prince of Music and his Royal Runners out to find her. They went " all up and down the swamp. They went to the north, they went to the south, they went to the east, they went to the west." On and on they went, making all the girls they passed sing, and "disturbing screech owls, wildcats, and resting raccoons." When they got to you-know-who's house, Crooked Foster Mother pushed Hennie and Minnie out front but the prince stuck his  fingers in his ears as soon as they opened their mouths. And even though Cinderella had been ordered to go out back and paint the henhouse with her toothbrush, Crooked Foster Mother hadn't told her not to sing while she did it. So she sang, and that's when the prince heard her. He let his ears lead him to her, and there she was, "behind the henhouse. He stood quietly listening and Cinderella's voice seemed to make everything around her sparkle with an enchanted light. " And the Prince of Music brought her back to the swamp, and  Queen Mother Rhythm "listened again to the golden voice and knew deep in her heart that Cinderella was her long lost child. And so Cinderella took her rightful  place beside Queen Mother Rhythym and the Prince of Music, singing and leading the Great Gospel Choir." And she and her mama lived happily ever after!

Notes: This story, The Gospel Cinderella by Joyce Carol Thomas, is a really cool variation, with Cinderella being reunited with her mama, after being carried downstream. The parallels to the Prince of Egypt story make this book a natural to pair with Lynne Reid Banks' Moses in Egypt.
Montessori Connection: Learn about Gospel music, or share your favorite gospel music with your friends. Try
 by downloading this mp3, If I Be Lifted Up.

Then, try using  the Montessori Bells, if your class has them, or
maybe you will find something at this marvelous