Robin Redbreast

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

Friday, February 11, 2011

Cinderella #39 The Two Sisters (1969)

Cam hung her shoes to dry on the horns of a water buffalo. (Nielson, J.) 
Once upon a time, “long, long ago in Vietnam, there were two sisters.  One was Tam, the favored sister.  She was beautiful and much spoiled.  The other was Cam, the stepsister, who although not beautiful, was very kind.”  Now, the girls lived spent their days in very different ways.  Tam spent all day, “reading, playing music, and sewing.” But Cam worked hard.  Her “wicked stepmother sent her to the rice paddies to tend a herd of water buffalo.” All day she worked hard, and so the time passed.  One day, Cam had worked so hard that she slipped and fell into the mud.  Her shoes were so dirty that she rinsed them off in the water and hung them on the horns of one of her buffaloes to dry.  “A flying crow mistook the shoes for food.  The crow swooped down, plucked one shoe off the buffalo’s horn, and flew away.  As it was winging over the Emperor’s palace garden, the shoe slipped from the crow’s beak and fell into the garden.”  The guards picked the shoe up and took it to the Emperor.  “It happened that he had been searching for a wife for his son, the Crown Prince.  When he saw the shoe, he devised a plan.  Whoever would fit this shoe would become the bride of the Crown Prince.  A decree was sent to every hamlet throughout Vietnam.  For ten days, girls from across the land came to the  Royal Palace to try on the shoe. “ It did not fit any of them.  When Cam asked for permission to go and try it on, her stepmother said, “ The guards would chase away such an ugly girl.’  To make sure that Came would not have time to slip away, the wicked stepmother gave her a bushel of beans and told her to separate the good beans from the bad ones. “ She knew that she would never finish in time, and she began to cry.  That’s when “a flock of white doves flew into the house.  In a few minutes, they had picked out all the good beans. “ Now her stepmother was not happy to see this task done, so she gave the girl an order: she must take a bath before she went.  A hot bath. “Heat some water in a cauldron.  When the water is boiling, jump in. “ Cam did this, and “when she jumped into the boiling cauldron, she was turned into a beautiful girl.  She stepped out of the boiling cauldron dressed and ready to go to the Royal Palace.  Yet how would she get there in time?  “Just then, some birds of paradise came down from heaven, pulling a flowery carriage.  Cam stepped into the carriage and flew off to the Royal Palace.  The carriage arrived just as the gates were closing.  Cam ran up the stairs and slipped her foot into the shoe—it was a perfect fit.  She and the Crown Prince were married and lived happily ever after. 

Notes: This story is taken from The Wishing Pearl and Other Stories, (1969) by Jon & Kay Nielson, originally translated by Lam Chan Quan. It is no longer in print. An excellent, fully bilingual version isTam and Cam: The Ancient Vietnamese Cinderella Story. Also try: The Brocaded Slipper and Other Vietnamese Tales,The Beggar in the Blanket & Other Vietnamese Tales
For more information about celebratingTet, Vietnamese New Year, see

Montessori Connection: 6-9 Animals of Vietnam/Rainforest/Mangrove Swamp
1. Find a good map of Vietnam that shows the land and animals, such as this atlas:
Essential Atlas of the World (Usborne Internet-Linked Children's World Atlas)
2. Choose an animal to research.  Will it be a  fish, a reptile, a bird, or a mammal? 3. Here are some interesting ones: a. mudskipper (periophthalmus sobrinus) b. saltwater crocodile (Crocodilia) c. the Brahminy Kite (aves/Neornithes/Neognathae/falconiforme) d. .macaque (primate/anthropoida/Cercopithecidae/Cercopithecinea Macaca spp.) e. water buffalo (ungulate/bovidae/bovinea/Bubalus bubalis.
Montessori Connection 9-12: US History/Modern History/20th century/Vietnam War, 1965-1975. Some good resources include,10,000 Days of Thunder: A History of the Vietnam War,Everything We Had: An Oral History of the Vietnam War by Thirty-Three American Soldiers Who Fought It,Bloods: An Oral History of the Vietnam War by Black Veterans,and Surviving Twice: Amerasian Children of the Vietnam War.