Robin Redbreast

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

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Cinderella #6: The Salmon Princess an Alaska Cinderella Story, Dwyer, M.

Fortunately, her gown was long enough to cover her boots!
Once upon a time, on a small island in Alaska (and if you are looking at a map of the USA then go past California, past Oregon, all the way above Washington, and that's the border with Alaska) there lived a girl, who could almost "walk across the sea on the backs of so many wild  salmon". That's how many there were in the water near her house. Her father was a fisherman and her mother was a fish smoker who worked on the beach over a fire. "Sweet smoke spiraled into the sky as they sang songs from long ago, a time when anything was possible. " But one winter, the mother died suddenly. Perhaps it was pneumonia or a really bad flu? This terrible sorrow caused much pain. The girl's tears ran saltily into the ocean and she cried for a long time. As for the father, he " held sadness in his heart like a great net bursting with fish." As so many dads do. Eventually, he found a new wife, one with two sons. They were young men, not so far past being teenagers, and they could catch a lot of fish. And guess what? The step mother would not clean fish! Guess who got to do that? Mm hmm. Our little girl! Her name was Cinder because "of her smoky gray eyes that smoked like fire." Her favorite place to build her fire for smoking salmon was at the base of an ancient cedar tree. She did things just like her mom used to do. But the older she grew, the more she looked like  her mom. And the harder that was for her dad. One summer, news came that there was to be a Silver Salmon Festival on the mainland! There would be contests and a fair, the kind with rides. Cinder begged to go, but her stepmother laughed and told her to go clean fish. Her father gave her a look. It meant, "Go clean fish. " She gazed at the mountain of salmon...and got to work. "With the ease of a grizzly bear, she sliced all of the slippery salmon clean." The rest of the family had already gone on, so Cinder ran to her fish smoking tree. She ached with longing for her mother and wanted very badly to go to the Silver Salmon Festival. She began to sing one of the songs that her mom used to sing, and as she gazed up, she saw tiny silver stars filling the sky like the salmon filled the sea. Something flashed past her in the air: it was a salmon! An eagle had dropped it as it flew over Cinder. The fish transformed under her fingers as she picked it up, and became a dress. A beautiful dress of silvery, greenish, lavender blue. It shimmered and shifted color just like...a salmon! She took off her own stinky clothes (which were always covered with fish guts) and put on the dress. That's when she heard the eagle speak.  He told her that magic wears off at midnight, and that she had beter be back before then! Yikes! That didn't give her much time. And what could she do about her boots?  Going barefoot was impossible in the rugged conditions of her island. Fortunately the dress was really long, so it covered her boots. Now she was ready to go. She grabbed a big bag of smoked salmon to sell at the festival. She knew that she needed money to buy raffle tickets, and boy, did  she want the grand prize, which was real silver bars! Her dad kept a small boat called a skiff, and she started it up. Easy peazy lemon squeezy! She'd watched her dad do it often. How beautiful the water was at night. Her little boat "pushed through the waves, its phosphorescent wake glowing like the train of a great wedding gown." When she got to the festival, she thought it looked great. There were lights and rides and popcorn. She bought a bunch of tickets and thought she saw a cute boy watching her! She saw a line of dancers go by and they looked like they were having so much fun that she joined in. And there was that guy again. When he "saw the girl's wild red hair and smoky gray eyes that sparked" he knew she was special. They dance for hours...but suddenly, Cinder remembered what the eagle had said and ran for the skiff. Wouldn't you know, there was  a tangle of nets on the shore and she tripped and got tangled. She kicked and struggled and managed to break free, then cranked her motor for home. She saw the boy wave something on the shore...and realized she'd dropped her raffle tickets. She could not turn back. But this young man wanted to find her. He liked her very much, and besides, they had called the winning number at the festival, and Cinder had won the grand prize. She had only 24 hours to collect it or it reverted to the pot. This guy was  determined to find her and he checked island after island, carrying a muddy boot with him every where. He was close to giving up when he noticed an eagle in the sky. It seemed to lead him to one small island, and here the man got out of his skiff and asked people if they'd seen a red haired girl "with sparkling eyes." And Cinder's father said he had a daughter but her eyes didn't sparkle, and the step mother said something like, " Yeah,  she sparkles with fish slime!". Then the step brothers grabbed Cinder and locked her in the smokehouse before the man had even seen her. And what do you think she did? Well, she did the most sensible thing she could do in the smokehouse: she "fired up the old smoker and began to sing as smoke soared into the air." Of course the young man smelled the smoke and heard the singing, and that is how he found her. He gave her six big bars of silver, and told her that his father owned a salmon cannery called King Salmon Cannery. " So that makes you a Salmon Prince!" chuckled Cinder. He looked so handsome in his blue plaid shirt and she loved him, so they were married at once. That left only one person at home to clean salmon: the cranky step mom. She hated it so much she "went back to the Lower 48". The step brothers had no choice but to get jobs, and the only jobs they could find were cleaning salmon at the cannery. As for her dad, Cinder forgave him and he " lived a long and happy fisherman's life on a healthy diet of salmon."  The Salmon Prince and his princess bought a ranch far from the shore and settled down to raise cabbages. They had three little girls in a row and Cinder "taught them to sing her mother's songs and to believe that anything is possible."

Notes: This book has a great feeling about it, of wide open spaces and possibilities. The illustrations are just fanastic: Cinder's dress really is very salmonesque and the details of the Alaskan landscape, of giant trees and heavy fog are like a quick visit up north. The image of this gal in her silvery dress, firing up the skiff is a good one! And the illustration on page 15, of the "phosphorescent wake glowing like the train of a great wedding gown" glows with colors that break my heart. All illustrations are watercolors.
Montessori Note: My blue notebook tells me that last year at this time, several of my students were deeply into reading about Helen Keller (Scholastic Biography.

Our other work was Word Study, specifically compound words and prefixes.
It is fun to find the compound words in this story! Look for fisherman, smokehouse, overhead.
There are some good prefixes here too. Look for: mid (night), step (brothers, mother), and try adding im to the word possible! How many other words can you add it to?