Robin Redbreast

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

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Cinderella #9 The Little Glass Slipper freely translated from Perrault (1954)

French ladies of the 17th century.
Once upon a time, in France, "there was a gentle man who took for his second wife the proudest and haughtiest woman". She had two daughters of her own, and when the three of them moved into the gentleman's home, and found his own sweet daughter...well, she was such a contrast to her girls, that she quickly became jealous. Quick as a wink, the wedding was over and Cinderella - for so they called her- was put to work with "the vilest household tasks.; it was Cinderella who scoured the pots and scrubbed the stairs, Cinderella who polished the bedchamber of madame and also those of her girls. " Meanwhile, she had to sleep " on a wretched straw pallet in a miserable garret away up in the top of the house. " While her stepsisters lived in finery, she worked in drudgery. In the evenings, exhausted from her work she "would creep to the chimney corner and sit there in the ashes, earning for herself the name of Cinderseat. " The years passed by and one day news came that the king's son was "to give a ball. He invited everyone who was anyone, including our two young misses" who kept their step sister quite busy while she "starched their linen and puffed their ruffles" in preparation.  The elder had decided to wear her "cherry velvet with the English trim" while the younger had "nothing but my usual petticoat, but to make up for that, I shall wear my cloak of flowered gold and my diamond circlet, which is not to be sneezed at either!" They had their hair piled into horns, and stuck the best "beauty patches " on their cheeks. For two days before the ball "they hardly took time to eat. They strained and snapped a dozen corset strings pulling them too tight." At long last, the appointed date and hour arrived. As her stepmother and sisters disappeared into the distance, Cinderella began to cry. And that's when her godmother who "was really a fairy" found her, and together, they worked out a plan. Using a huge pumkin, the fairy godmother " scooped the pumpkin out, leaving only the rind. Then she touched it with her wand and - just like that! the pumpkin turned into a beautiful golden coach, gilded with pure gold. " Soon, six mice were freed from the trap and when tapped, " all in all was a fine set of six horses, of a beautiful dappled mouse-grey". A coachman was made from the fattest of three rats in a trap and six lizards "from behind the watering pot". They " hopped up behind the carriage in their fancy livery and lace as though they had never done anything else in their lives. " Seeing first the wonder at the  coach and team, and then the frown that passed over her god daughter's face, our fairy asked what was wrong. " Must I go in these rags?" asked the girl. And with a tap they were changed into " a gown of gold and silver, embroidered with rubies, pearls and diamonds." And the prettiest glass slippers in the world. And off she went, with her fairy godmother's warning in mind. If she stayed a moment past 12:00, god-mama said,  "Your  coach will turn back into a pumpkin, your horses into mice, your footmen into lizards and your riches into rags. She kept that in mind when she got to the palace. Yet as she entered, a hush fell over the crowd so great was her beauty and magnetism. The prince, dazzled by this "mysterious one", danced with her all evening. At dinnertime, though the food was rich and tempting he " did not taste a mouthful, so intent was he in gazing at Cinderella." She shared oranges and lemons with her stepsisters, who had no idea who she was. But suddenly, she heard the clock strike eleven and three quarters. She curtseyed and fled. At home she thanked her godmother and quickly changed, feigning drowsiness when the family came in. How her stepsisters raved about the "beautiful princess" who had come, charmed the prince and shared fruit with the likes of them. To play along, Cinderella said,  " Ah, Mademoiselle Javotte, lend me your yellow outfit that you wear for every day." And of course she said no, as Cinderella knew she would. She had something better in mind! Begging her godmother the next day, as the prince had begged her, she gained permission and another outfit, this one even better. The second night passed as the first, except that Cinderella grew careless with the time. As the clock struck midnight, she "fled as lightly as a doe". She made it home just in time, though she lost one slipper on the palace stairs. When the stepsisters came home they announced that the king's son had "fallen head over heels in love with the owner of the slipper." Sure enough, a herald soon announced the trials. First they "tried it on princesses, then on duchesses and all the ladies of the court".  It fit no one. Finally came the turn of the Javotte Sisters, who did no better. Now Cinderella saw her moment, and begged for a turn. The stepsisters " burst into shrieks of laughter. Fit her! Oh!". But it did, "just as if it had been made of wax". When she put the other one on her fairy godmother arrived, and tapped her with the wand. Now everyone saw that Cinderella was "the beautiful personage they had seen at the ball! " Begging their step sisters forgiveness, the Javotte girls threw themselves at her feet. She forgave them, asked them to love her always and found husbands for them at court.
Notes: This version does not contain the morals which Perrault included, and which can be found in Cinderella #8. The ethereal beauty of the illustrations, line drawings with gauzy pinks, yellows and blues are the stuff dreams. From the glamorous gowns to the glittering pumkin coach, this 1954 Caldecott Medal winner, translated and with  pictures by Marcia Brown. It has the dreamy look of times long past.  It is another treasure from the Berkeley Public Library, this time from North Branch.  It is available on Amazon, I see, as, I suppose, most everything is. http://www.berkeleypubliclibrary.org/about_the_library/neighborhood_branches/north_branch.php
That is the branch that I grew up walking to, just a few blocks away from Mr. Mopps, the best toy store in the world.  There is a rumor that they are closing but as of January 2011 they are still going strong. http://www.yelp.com/message_board_search?talk_query=mr+mopps&location=
This is the classic version, though minus the translation.
Montessori Connection: 6-9, Adjective Search/ Fundamental Needs, Clothing.  Find ten adjectives that describe Cinderella's clothing or house. ( wretched straw pallet; fine chambers; inlaid floors; cherry velvet; gilded [pumpkin] with pure gold; fancy livery; stuffs as fine; splendidly dressed; little slipper; more magnificent)
9-12: Adjectives: comparatives and superlatives. How many can you find? ( proudest, haughtiest, not quite so rude; a hundred times more beautiful; best advice in the world; she dressed them perfectly; the most beautiful pumpkin; the most elegant mustaches you have ever seen; the prettiest in the whole world; the seat of greatest honor. )

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