Traditional Literature: Three Cinderellas Essay

956 words - 4 pages

Most people are familiar with the Cinderella story as told in the translation by Marcia Brown. There are also cultural and parodied versions of this tale. For a cultural version, I will be referring to Sootface, an Ojibwa tale retold by Robert D. San Souci and illustrated by Daniel San Souci (San Souci, 1994). The parody I've chosen is "Cinderumpelstiltskin", found in the book The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales, by Jon Scieszka and illustrated by Lane Smith (Scieszka, 1992). All three renditions are picture storybooks, and have similarities in the cast of characters and in the motifs of transformation and magic, but there are significant differences within those similar themes.
The three stories have honored illustrators in common. Brown's Cinderella earned a Caldecott Medal, while Scieszka's The Stinky Cheese Man won a Caldecott Honor award. Daniel San Souci, the illustrator of Sootface, did not get an award for this book, but has won several awards for his other work. As for the illustrations themselves, they vary widely. Since Brown translated the original from Charles Perrault, she chose to illustrate the story with details from French court life in the late seventeenth century. The pictures are drawn with a light hand, in pen and ink and four color gouache. For Sootface, Daniel San Souci used watercolors in rich forest hues. Like Brown, he researched the setting for the story and included details true to the life of the Ojibwa tribe in the mid eighteenth century. Lane's illustration for "Cinderumpelstiltskin" stands apart from the first two in many ways. There is only one picture for the one-page story. The only common character shown is Cinderella; the author melds Cinderella's story with Jack's (from "Jack's Bean Problem") and Rumpelstiltskin, so those two characters are pictured as well. The picture is done in oil and collage, with dark brown tones, an (Brown, 1954) (San Souci, 1994) (Scieszka, 1992)abstract feel, and little detail beyond the characters. We can tell by looking at the illustration alone that this is no ordinary retelling of the Cinderella story.
A young woman in distress is the common main character, and there are similarities and slight differences in the woman's family, and in the prince figure, as well. The Cinderella figure portrayed by Brown and Scieszka are already beautiful. Poor Sootface's beauty has been scarred by ashes from the fire; her hair is singed. In all three renditions, the mother of the Cinderella figure has died. Both Brown's and Scieszka's Cinderellas have wicked stepmothers and mean stepsisters. Sootface has no stepmother; it's her mean sisters that mock her and make her do their work. The father figures are either absent or powerless to help Cinderella's situation. The father of Brown's Cinderella is "tied hand and foot to his wife's apron strings". Sootface's father...

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