The children’s picture book Cinderella or the little glass slipper is a folk story that recounts the experiences of a European girl named Cinderella and her journey to becoming the wife of country’s prince. In the beginning of Cinderella’s story, the narrator introduces her to the readers while she is in the middle of being berated by her mean stepsisters. Instead of other animated and live-action adaptations, this book begins right at the moment when the stepsisters hear that there is a ball being thrown at the court by the country’s prince. As her stepsisters taunt her and abase her self-esteem, her Fairy Godmother suddenly appears and begins to create an outfit and entourage for her to attend the ball with.
After Cinderella arrives at the ball, she meets the prince for the first time and he is awestruck by her. Unfortunately, despite how well their interaction is going, Cinderella must leave the prince because her Fairy Godmother’s spell is supposed to wear off at midnight. Luckily, one of her glass slippers does not disappear and the Prince is able to track her down and marry her, which proves to young readers that a person’s inner beauty and humility is more important than their outer beauty.
In the picture book itself, there are a multitude of visual references that reflect the culture of the time period that this adaptation of Cinderella lived in. Including the dress of the higher class visitors of the ball, the attire of the country’s monarch, and the priest’s robe that he wore during Cinderella and the Prince’s wedding. In the text, the author makes mention of a ball, a court, a coach, horses for the coach, and a coachman to drive the vehicle. All of these details are reflective of the aristocratic and Christian culture that was present in Europe during the renaissance in the 15th to 17th century, which makes this picture book very authentic when considering the culture, era, and geographical location that it is meant to portray.
Hearne’s (1993) views on children books and how they portray and honor the cultures that they originate from is very useful when deciding how to use picture books with children. The most compelling parts of Hearne’s arguments on authenticity in folklore and mythology is that it is so easy for majority cultures to steal authorship and credit from the people a famous story originates from. When selecting books to use with children, it is important for teachers and parents to make sure that the stories they select properly reflect a child’s cultural and ethnic background and do not simply recolor the characters of an old story (Hearne, 1993, p. 34-35). This adaptation of Cinderella or the little glass slipper adhered to Hearne’s written preferences for how a folk story should be portrayed and preserved. It is clear that the illustrations and language used within the adaptation are a reflection of the European renaissance and times when class systems and monarchies dominated Europe’s culture and politics.
- Cinderella or the little glass slipper [PDF]. (n.d.). London: Grant and Griffith.
- Hearne, B. (1993). Respect the source: Reducing cultural chaos in picture books, part two. School Library Journal, 33-37