Robin Redbreast

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

Friday, January 28, 2011

Cinderella #27 with pictures by Jeffers, S.

Rattus rattus, the black rat. 
Once upon a time, in France, "there was a man whose wife had died and so he took another." She was was a cruel woman, and haughty, and she had two daughters of the same temperament.  The gentleman had a daughter too, who was "as gentle and good as gold, " and so the new wife hated her. It was not long before " the woman began to make her stepdaughter's life a misery" of hard work and little food. The dreary months passed, and the girl's only consolation came to be resting in "the chimney corner" so she soon was called Cinderseat, or Cinderella. Yet " In her ragged clothing, with her dirty face Cinderealla was yet a hundred times more beautiful than her stepsisters." At length, the family heard news that there would be a ball at the palace, and that "all the stylish people in the countrside" were invited. How they tormented Cinderella, taunting her about the dresses they caused her to sew for them, in contrast with her dirty rags. They even asked if she wouldn't like to go too, but she replied, "Please sisters, do not mock me. How could I ever dream of such a thing?' 'You are right, they answered, people would surely laugh to see a Cinderwench at the ball. " At last, the night arrived, and Cinderella was finally alone. "She began to weep, and her godmother, who was a fairy, saw her tears and asked what was the matter. " Upon hearing the wish, she said," Well, then, go you shall!" and asked for a large pumpkin and six mice. She tapped these with her wand and "instantly, the pumpkin turned into a fine, gilded coach...and [the mice] into white horses, a fine set of them." Overcome with joy, Cinderella still had to ask, " But am I to wear these rags to the ball?" and her forgetful fairy godmother "simply touched Cinderella with her wand and and at once her clothes were turned into a gown of silver. Then she gave Cinderella a pair of glass slippers, the most beautiful imaginable". And she was off, with a warning to be back before the clock struck 12:00. The horses trotted gaily through the woods, the scent of blossoms all around. When they arrived at the palace, " So awed were the guests by the mysterious princess that they left off dancing and the musicians ceased to play." The prince took her hand, and kept her by his side all night. Suddenly, the clock began to toll midnight, and the girl broke free and ran. Back in the kitchen at home, she thanked her fairy godmother and asked if she might go back the next night. The promise was made, and so, when her step sisters arrived, and told her of the splendor she had missed, she could bear it. But the following night, she lost track of the time. Stumbling down the stairs of the palace, she lost a shoe, which was snatched up by the prince. This time, she made it home just seconds before her step sisters, who raved about the lovely lady of the ball. The prince had been bereft, they said, when she had fled, and was determined to find her. Sure enough, "A few days afterward, the king's son proclaimed that he would marry the woman for whom the slipper had been made" and the couriers tried the shoe on many a young lady. They "tried it on the duchesses and then on the ladies of the court. But nowhere in the land could they find a woman whose foot was small enough to fit the slipper. " Now it arrived at the unhappy home of Cinderella, and the sisters barged their big feet out to test the shoe. But it would not fit. And Cinderella, who "was in the room and recognized her slipper at once" requested her turn. And the sisters jeered but the courier "looked at Cinderella and saw that she was lovely. He said his orders were that every woman must try it on." Of course it fitted her "as easily as if it had been made out of wax". So did its mate, which the girl drew now from her pocket. And then "Cinderella was taken before the prince. He was overwhelmed with love for her and sometime later they were married. Cinderella, who was as good as she was beautiful, gave her two sisters a home in the palace, and that very same day they were married to two lords of the court."
Notes: The illustrations here are just lovely, so detailed yet calming in their everyday comforts. Note the copper pans on the wall in the kitchen, the blossoms, the snorting steeds, all rendered in line drawing realism. It is also interesting to note that although this is a Perrault based story, and Cinderella does not have an animal friend as such, she is pictured on the cover with a little red bird on her shoulder. It seems that Cinderella and birds are deeply entwined as images. Animals help, of course, in the Perrault Cinderella: mice, rats, lizards and horses play an active role in getting her to the ball, and cats, dogs and birds are commonly included in the illustrations of Perrault-based Cinderella stories. This version, as most produced for children in the 20th century, does not contain the morals at the end. Those, it seems, are to be found only in The Complete Fairy Tales of Charles Perrault.
Montessori Connection 6-12: Scientific Classification: Rattus rattus, the black rat.
1. Identify the rat using the circles for the Animal Kingdom, and make the following labels: Order: Rodentia. Suborder: Myomorpha. Family: Muridae. Species: Rattus rattus.
2. Learn about rats in history. A. Learn the natural history of rats:  Around One Cactus: Owls, Bats and Leaping Rats (Sharing Nature With Children Book) B. As vectors for The Plague: Pox, Pus and Plague: A History of Disease and Infection (Raintree Freestyle: A Painful History of Medicine).
3. Learn about rats in literature: a. **REPRINT** Grahame, Kenneth, 1859-1932. The wind in the willows, by Kenneth Grahame; illustrated by Paul Bransom. New York, C. Scribner's Sons, 1913.**REPRINT** b. Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh (Aladdin Fantasy)