|Illustrated by Catrow, D.|
Once upon a time,
“Cinderella Skeleton dwelt in Bone Yard Acres near the wood,
third mausoleum on the right,
decayed, decrepit—what a fright.
On the door a withered wreath
Invited guests to REST IN PEACE,
It was the pride of the neighborhood.
The poor thing lived with her stepsisters: “Gristlene was small and mean and firmly packed with spite and spleen; Tall Bony-Jane, a scatterbrain, was just as vile and twice as vain.” Of course they worked that poor skeleton girl just like a servant. She was busy all the day,what with hanging cobwebs, selecting dead flowers for display, and feeding the bats. Her clothes soon hung on her like a shroud. It happened that one day,
“Prince Charnel summoned one and all to his frightfully famous Halloween Ball;
when Cinderella begged to go,
her stepmother sneered and told her, ‘No!” So Cinderella simply waited until they’d gone, then went into the woods to seek help from the witch.
Located what the witch required:
A Jack O’ Lantern, fiery eyed;
Six rats a trap held locked inside;
Two bats asleep in wings wrapped tight;
A cat as black as moonless night—
Exactly as the witch required.”
These were quickly turned into the means of travel: “the pumpkin became a funeral wagon; the rats to nightmares, part horse, part dragon.” And Cinderella’s rags became
a confection of lace and ribbons. But the witch warned: “You must return before the morning. If you fail to heed my warning, your joy will fade at the break of day.” So the skeleton girl promised, and off she went to the ball. The prince was enchanted, and danced with none other all the evening long. When the clock began to toll the dawn hour, “Cinderella Skeleton —her haste (as haste will) brought mishap: As she ran for her carriage....her foot came off with a snap!” That’s what Prince Charnel found on the stairs, just her splintered bones, encased in a dainty slipper. He swore that if he were not dead already he would die from love. He simply must find her! So he put her foot into a case, and began the search. It led him through swamps and garbage dumps and, finally, to Bone Yard Acres. But Bony-Jane and Gristlene saw him coming, and locked their skeletal stepsister into the closet. Hah! The clever girl picked the lock with a pin and ran out. Of course the stump fitted her! Prince Charnel swooned, and said that she was, “the rarest gem the world has seen!
Your gleaming skull and burnished bones,
Your teeth like polished kidney stones,
Your dampish silks and dankish hair,
There’s nothing like you anywhere!” As for her stepmother and stepsisters: “Skreech, Gristlene, and Bony-Jane just
Shriveled with envy and shrank to dust.“
From San Souci, R.(2000) Cinderella Skeleton Florida: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company
Notes: My first reaction to this story was that it was macabre, and a strange idea. Then I got deeper into my Cinderella research, and realized that there is an old, old, tradition of death occurring in Cinderella stories. (See Giracoccola, and others).
Montessori Connection: Cinderella Re-Write/ Holiday Celebrations
1. Read the story again, looking for clues about which holiday the author was inspired by.
2. Brainstorm with your friends about your favorite holidays.
3. Make a list of them.
4. After each one, describe some of the ways it is celebrated.
5. Try writing a mini-story about Cinderella on you favorite holiday.