|Retold and illustrated by Barbara McClintock|
Once upon a time, in France, there lived a nobleman and his wife and child. “When his wife died, he took another, who seemed as sweet and gentle as the first. “ This illusion was soon shattered, and before long, the merchant’s daughter found herself doing all the hardest work around the house. “The poor girl swept the floors, washed and dried and pressed the laundry, scrubbed the stairs, and cleaned and scoured every dish, pot, and pan.” And then, when her work was done, she was sent upstairs to a garret. “The poor girl knew her father would only scold her if she complained. So she suffered in patient silence.” When winter came, and she shivered in her thin dress, she “sat by the cinders near the fireplace to keep warm, which is why she was called Cinderella. But the older stepsister, who was the meaner of the two, called her Cinderbottom.” Life continued in this pattern for some time. One day, they heard the news that the king’s son was having a ball. “ The stepsisters were all aflutter about what to wear and how to arrange their hair. ‘And what will you wear, Cinderella?’ they teased. Cinderella sighed. ‘I’m not going.” But oh, how she wished she could! Her cruel stepsisters continued, “Can you imagine Cinderbottom at the ball?’asked the elder. ‘They’d have to follow her around with a dustpan while holding their noses!’ said the younger. Both squealed with laughter.” At last they left, and she sat down to cry. That’s when a “kind stranger appeared and asked what the matter was...This kindly woman, who was really her fairy godmother, said, ‘I know. You wish you could go to the ball!’ ‘Oh, yes!’ said Cinderella. ‘Well then, let’s get busy! We’ll start with this pumpkin. Now bring me four mice, a rat, and four lizards.” An odd request, thought Cinderella, but she did not argue. Now, ‘the godmother raised her arms and said the magic words, ‘FOOMUS BALOOMUS!’ In a flash, the pumpkin grew into a golden carriage, the four mice changed into four handsome gray horses, the lizards became four liverymen dressed in shining emerald green, and the rat turned into a portly coachman with a jaunty mustache. Cinderella was amazed. ‘Now, one more thing.’ said the godmother with a smile. All at once, Cinderella’s tattered rags vanished, and the most beautiful dress imaginable appeared in their place. A pair of tiny glass slippers graced her feet.” Cinderella thanked her godmother and was whisked away, with a warning to be home by midnight called by the godmother. Well, the dancing and the music came to a halt when Cinderella walked in. As she danced with the prince, “ the ladies studied her so that they could copy her hair and dress the next day. Even the king and queen admired her beauty. " The king’s son was so overcome that “ by the time dinner was served, he couldn’t eat a bite. He gave Cindralla a plate of oranges as a gift. She brought them to her stepsisters and served them with kindness. “ Now the clock began to strike twelve, and Cinderella fled, remembering to curtsy to the king before she went. At home, her godmother enjoyed hearing all the details. But when her stepsisters came home they mocked her, telling Cinderella how a fine princess had served them fruit. The girl begged them to loan her a dress so that she could go the next night but, “What a joke!’ both stepsisters laughed. ‘Lend a dress to a filthy Cinderbottom? Ha!’ Cinderella smiled a secret smile.” Her fairy godmother had already promised her she would go again. For the second night in a row, Cinderella arrived at the ball in gorgeous attire, and for the second night, the king’s son danced with no one else. When the clock struck twelve, Cinderella “ran as fast as a startled deer, and as she bounded down the stairs, one glass slipper fell from her foot. Outside the palace stood a pumpkin. From beneath it, four mice, four lizards, and a rat scurried away.” She ran home in rags, but the prince found her “little sparkling shoe on the stairs. He held it close for the rest of the night, thinking only of the mysterious princess who had run away with his heart.” In the morning, his quest began. He would not stop, he vowed, until he found the girl who could wear the glass slipper. He tried every woman in the palace and then every woman in the town. Finally, he came to the merchant’s house. First the elder tried, “ but without success. Then the younger stepsister tried, also with no luck. ‘May I try?’ whispered Cinderella. ‘ You?’ sneered the stepsisters. ‘ What a stupid idea!’ But to everyone’s great astonishment, the slipper fit Cinderella’s foot perfectly. When she “pulled the matching slipper from her pocket, the younger stepsister fainted!...They were all terribly sorry for the way they had treated Cinderella, and everyone lived happily ever after, forever and a day.
Notes: A classic Perrault, with a slightly updated godmother. The illustrations are detailed and reminiscent of Kate Greenaway.
Montessori Connection 6-12 : Zoology/Mammals/Rodentia myomorpha Cricetidae/ or Animal Stories
Mice and rats in literature:
- Reepicheep the valiant mouse from The Voyage of the "Dawn Treader" ~ C.S. Lewis ~ 1976 Paperback Edition ~
- (1973); Stuart Little; A Guide for Using Stuart Little in the Classroom; or Stuart Little (Spanish-language version) (Spanish Edition).
- A wonderful series featuring heroic mice is Redwall (First book in the Redwall series) by Brian Jacques (1994).