|"I beg your pardon, Madame Editor,|
but I am the author
of this particular diversion."
Charles Perrault on
Cinderilla or The Little Glass Slipper, 1697.
Once upon a time, "there was a man, a widower, who took for his wife a very proud woman." She had two daughters, as bitter and mean as herself, and the three of them tormented the gentleman's own girl. She was made to "do all the meanest work of the house...and swept, baked, and washed for the whole household." Gone was her comfortable bedroom: she was made to sleep upstairs now, in the drafty attic. It happened one day that an invitation came from the prince. He was giving a ball, and "all the people of fashion in that countryside" were invited, for he was to choose among them for his bride. So the sisters forced Cinderella to stitch and hem, press and beribbon their dresses. She worked for days to get them ready. At last, the great night came. Let alone, "Cinderella sat down among the cinders and began to cry."That's when "an old lady in a red cloak and pointed hat" appeared. She was "Cinderella's godmother, who was a fairy." She guessed what caused Cinderella's sorrow, and said to her,"Run into the garden, and fetch me the largest pumpkin you can find."So the girl did, and was soon back, "hugging a big, green and yellow pumpkin". Then the fairy "scooped out the inside of the pumpkin, leaving nothing but the rind." A touch of her stick, "which was really a fairy wand" turned it into "a fine coach, shining all over with gold and lined with green." When the fairy asked her to fetch the mousetrap, and it was opened, the six mice within were transformed into "sleek and prancing" horses. From the rattrap came a fine rat, who was magicked into a "tall and handsomely dressed coachman". Then the fairy godmother told Cinderella, "Behind the watering pot are six green lizards. Bring them here." So she did, and "each one was turned into a smart footman". But how could Cinderella attend a ball in her dirty gown? When she pointed this out, the fairy said, "You shall soon be more beautiful than your coach", and tapped her lightly. The girl's old gown and clunky wooden shoes turned into "robes of silk and velvet, glittering with jewels" and "a little pair of shining glass slippers, the prettiest that ever were seen." With a warning that the magic would all come undone at midnight, the fairy vanished, and Cinderella was off. No one knew who the mysterious beauty at the ball was, and the prince danced with her all night. But when the clocked "chimed quarter before twelve, Cinderella rose, and after curtsying to the company, left the palace and drove home in her coach." She was careful to thank her godmother, and to return the clothes. Her stepsisters found her sitting amongst the ashes, asleep, when they got home. How they teased and talked of the finery and fun of the night, and of the "beautiful princess who had been at the ball." The next night, the fairy provided her with a dress even finer, and another carriage and six. As before, the prince was captivated by Cinderella, and "in her happiness,[she] forgot how quickly the hours flew past." Though it was nearly twelve, she thought it approaching eleven. At the sound of the clock, "she started in fright and fled the ballroom as swiftly as a deer." All that the prince could find of her was a single, glass shoe. So he sent round the royal chamberlain, and a trumpeter, to call the news. Every maiden in the land must try the shoe on. Yet though the lines of young ladies stretched for miles, it seemed that none could wear the shoe. At last, the chamberlain came to Cinderella's house. Her stepsisters "pinched their toes and squeezed their heels" but could not fit the little slipper. When they were asked if any other eligible maidens lived in the house, the stepsisters replied,"Only Cinderella. Of course, the slipper would not fit her." But the chamberlain commanded that she be brought forth. When he held the shoe forth, Cinderella slipped it on quite easily. Then she "drew the other little glass slipper from her pocket", and just then, the fairy godmother appeared! The prince recognized Cinderella, in her rags, as the girl he sought. When the fairy, "with a touch of her wand, changed Cinderella's poor garments into robes, more splendid than ever." Then "the stepsisters fell at Cinderella's feet and begged her forgiveness." Cinderella forgave them, and implored them to be kind. Then she was married to the prince. She invited her sisters to live with her, and soon "two lords of the court loved and married them, and they, as well as Cinderella, were happy."
From: Cinderella and Other Tales of the Brothers Grimm. (Ed. Simon-Kerr, J. 2005) New York: HarperFestival
Note: The bizarre thing about this book is that is states very clearly, in the title and the cover notes, that the stories here are those "told by the Brothers Grimm". But where is the dovecoat, the little white bird, the hazel branch? Where is the knife for chopping feet? The bloody stocking? This is most certainly the Charles Perrault version from 1697, NOT the Grimm version from 1812. It was Perrault who introduced the glass slippers, the pumpkin coach, the lizards, etc. In the Grimm story, Aschenpüttle, the father goes to the fair and brings back a hazel branch for Cinderella. She plants it, it grows, a bird roosts on it, and throws down whatever the girl needs. When the prince comes around with the shoe, the stepsisters cut off a toe and part of their heel to get the shoe on. At first, the prince is fooled, but the little birds sings, "Roo-coo! Roo-coo! There's blood in the shoe!" and gives them away. Personal note to the editor, Julia Simon-Kerr: Why? If you prefer the Perrault story, say so. Now, go read Aschenpüttle and get your Cinderellas straight!
Montessori Elementary Connection: Accuracy in Research/Checking your facts
1. Read this story and compare it to that included in Charles Perrault's Complete Fairy Tales.
2. Notice that the very important, highly respectable adults in charge of publishing this book made a very stupid mistake.
3. Think about what would happen if you turned in a research report about a famous person from history, for example, Laura Ingalls Wilder. Now imagine that you wrote about how she became the first doctor in Italy and then became one of the most famous teachers in the world.
4. Now go do a fact check: use your library homepage to search for books on Laura Ingalls Wilder's life.Laura Ingalls Wilder: A Biography (Little House) or Laura Ingalls Wilder: A Writer's Life (South Dakota Biography) Notice that the part about the doctor and the teacher is from someone else's life, not Laura's.
5. Learn that the doctor and teacher were Maria Montessori:Maria Montessori: A biography for children or Maria Montessori: Her Life and Work
6. Learn to get your facts straight: Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective or Joe Sherlock, Kid Detective, Case #000001: The Haunted Toolshed or Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer or Detective Science: 40 Crime-Solving, Case-Breaking, Crook-Catching Activities for Kids