|Retold and illustrated |
by Janet Perlman
Once upon a time, somewhere in the Southern Hemisphere. lived "a young penguin named Cinderella." Well, she was as kind as the snow was white — but her stepsisters "were selfish and vain." The little penguin was kept busy with the household work while her sisters lay about on the ice, doing nothing. They "wore the finest of clothes and slept in large, cozy, feather beds with silk sheets and fluffy pillows. Poor Cinderella wore nothing but worn-out tatters and slept in the cold, stone cellar, up on a small shelf beside some old tin plates." One day the Penguin Prince's squire came around, announcing a costume ball. Oh how they poor,young penguin wanted to go! But her stepmother said, "The Prince would never want to meet a a shabby cinderblock like you!" And she flounced off to help her daughters prepare for the ball. Her girls primped their dresses and pecked lightly at their food so that they could have wasp-waists in time for the ball. When they started practicing their curtsies in front of the full-length mirror, Cinderella Penguin knew that her stepsisters were intent on charming the Prince. At last the big night came. Step-mama wore a mysterious ensemble involving a fan and a Mardi Gras mask. The first sister wore a dress so wide, and a giant bow so big that she looked like she was dressed up as a desert island. The other sister resembled a birthday package, so wide was her hair ribbon. They trooped out the door, leaving the cinder penguin behind. Now "Cinderella burst into tears. She felt so alone and unhappy. Suddenly, in a glow of blue light, the Great Fairy Penguin appeared before her." When she heard that the reason behind the tears was a wish to attend the ball, she said, "Then you shall." She instructed the young bird to bring her a pumpkin from the garden, and Cinderella complied. Now "the Fairy gave it a firm tap with her magic wand, and it magically turned into a golden carriage." But what would pull it? In the kitchen, the fairy penguin spied six little rodents, trying to drag a wedge of cheese off the table. She turned them into six horses, and the cheese itself was transformed into a coachman. "They all marched out the door as if it were the most natural thing to do." When the fairy asked Cinderella if she were happy now, her mouth said yes but her eyes said no. She looked "down at her ragged clothes" and the fairy said,"Oh! I almost forgot!". With a swish of her wand she changed Cinderella's hand-me-downs into "a beautiful gown with gold trimming and a real gold tiara. On her feet were a pair of glass flippers, the prettiest and most delicate that Cinderella had ever seen. Warning her that "the magic spell ends at the stroke of midnight," the fairy bade her enjoy herself. Cinderella promised to be home on time. It was so exciting to arrive at the palace and be announced with a fanfare of trumpets! What an amazing arrays of costumes everyone wore! She saw her stepmother and sisters, but they did not see her. "They were too busy gobbling down snacks and party sandwiches at the buffet tables. But the Penguin Prince noticed her at once. 'Who is she?' he asked his courtiers. 'She is the most beautiful penguin I have ever seen." He asked her to dance. She consented. And they spent the rest of the evening having a ball. "They whirled and twirled around the dance floor to the applause of the admiring crowd." Cinderella felt happier than she had ever felt before. But suddenly, the clock began to strike. She counted eleven, and then heard one more. She scurried away on her little feet as fast as they would carry her. But she "ran from the palace in such a hurry that one of her flippers fell off and was left lying on the steps." The Prince waddled out after her. All he could see was the shining flipper, glittering in the moonlight. So he carefully picked it up and the next day, sent his servants out to announce that he would marry the penguin maiden who could wear the flipper. "The royal footmen were commanded to take the flipper from house to house. The stepsisters spent the whole day perfuming and powdering their feet. " They tried to make Cinderella go down into the cellar until after the prince had left, but she wouldn't. She insisted that she was going to try on the flipper too. That's when they noticed for the first time "how delicate" their stepsisters' flippers were. "A knock came at the front door. 'Quick! Hide her!' said the stepsisters. They grabbed Cinderella, threw her down the cellar steps and slammed the door. Poor Cinderella. She lay upside down with her foot caught tight in the door, unable to get free. " As soon as the footmen came in, the stepsisters began to quarrel over who would have the first turn. In the scuffle, "it slipped from their grasp, flipped high in the air, and landed squarely on Cinderella's foot! Everyone stared. It was a perfect fit." Now the Great Fairy Penguin arrived. She pulled out her wand, did a bit of magic, and in a twinkle of light, Cinderella was dressed once more in the fabulous gown she had worn to the ball. Cinderella thanked her from the bottom of her heart. The stepsisters and stepmother did not know what to say. Finally they stuttered, " Look! Oh my!" and "It's her! Oh no!" and "Oh dear! We've really put our foot in it!" Cinderella Penguin and the Penguin Prince decided on a quick wedding. Bells pealed throughout the land, and, because those two penguins really had fallen in love, "they lived happily together ever after."
From Cinderella Penguin or, The Little Glass Flipper by Janet Perlman (1992) New York: Puffin Books
Notes: This story is hilarious! It is illustrated by the author. Be sure to check out the Elizabethan timber framed buildings on the page with the royal footmen seeking the penguin maid who can wear the flipper. My absolutely favorite picture is the one that I have shown above. In it, the Penguin Prince stands forlornly below a moon, little glass flipper in hand. Note that although this is a spoof, it too features a bird, the single most popular animal in Cinderella stories. Compare to Chickarella.
Montessori Connection: Fluency/Rhyming Words/Word Play/Double Consonant = Short Vowel Sound
1. Read the story and compare it to the 1697 story by Charles Perrault, Cinderella, or the Little Glass Slipper.
2. Notice that Janet Perlman has made a very funny story just by changing the word slipper to flipper.
3. What other words could you substitute that rhyme with flipper? (chipper, dipper, nipper, ripper, zipper)
4. Notice that when you have a double consonant, it changes the sound of the vowel from long to short.
5. Which words can you list that contain the vowel i, but a single consonant? (piper, viper, wiper)
6. Try this with other words such as: hitter,, knitter, litter, pitter, sitter, spitter, splitter, titter.
7. Change some words with a single t to a double tt: biter or bitter? hater or hatter? later or latter?