Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Smokey Mountain Rose An Appalachian Cinderella

Smoky Mountain Rose: An Appalachian Cinderella (Picture Puffins)is a retelling of Perrault's Cinderella set in Appalachian Mountains.

As this is a retelling of Perrault's tale, the author focuses on changing the setting and the details to fit the culture he has placed the story in so it will fit the format he has selected. Rose lives with her father a trapper in the Smokey Mountains. He decides to marry and brings home a widow with two daughters who are both mean and lazy. The situation only worsens for Rose when her father dies leaving her to their mercy.

In the tradition of the Cinderella ball, a wealthy neighbor decides it is time to find a wife and hosts a fancy party to meet the eligible ladies in the neighborhood. Her sisters are sure they will attract the gentleman's attention and laugh when Rose asks if she too might attend.

Rose finds assistance from a magical hog that provides her with appropriate clothing and transportation and a warning about leaving before midnight. As expected, Rose loses a glass slipper. Seb then uses the slipper to locate and marry Rose.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Grow Up Peter Pan!

In the early 1990's, Dr. Alvin Granowsky wrote a series of Point of View books for Steck-Vaughn Company. They were based on fairy tales and classic literature. I had only encountered the fairy tales when I was teaching. I recently came across some of the classic versions and the first of these was Peter Pan/Grow Up, Peter Pan!: A Classic Tale (Point of View) that I found in our library system.

These books have an interesting format. In this edition, the Peter Pan classic story is told in an abbreviated format if you hold the book in one direction. When you turn the book upside down and read it from the other direction, you get an alternate version of the story told from another character's perspective. Captain Hook tells the alternate story.

I would suggest reading the classic version of Peter Pan to get the full value of the story. The shorter version does leave something to be desired.

However, Hook's defense is remarkable. He claims he and his shipmates were running a legitimate business when they encountered Peter Pan. Hook offered Peter a chance to work, but Peter claimed he would never work for a living, which horrified the hard working Hook. Hook was further dismayed when he realized not only was Peter refusing to work, but he was kidnapping boys from their homes to join his crew. He continues to chronicle his misguided attempts to reform Peter and the Lost Boys. He claims he was greatly concerned that Peter would turn them to a life of crime. This is what he says eventually creates a confrontation between Peter and himself that results in his arm being eaten by the crocodile. Hook recounts that his lost leg and arm have left him reading the classics and tending his garden, hoping the authorities will get Peter into school and working.

This is a great companion read to Peter Pan. Children are often presented with boring compare and contrast exercises. Granowsky has provided a wonderful set of contrasting accounts for children to discuss and debate.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Anklet for a Princess A Cinderella Story from India

While much older than the Grimm's version, Anklet for a Princess: A Cinderella Story from Indiawill be recognizable to those familiar that version.

In this tale, Cinduri's father had two wives. When her mother and father die, she is left in the care of her stepmother who of course also has a daughter. As is the format of most Cinderella tales, she is forced to take on all the work while her stepmother and sister make her life miserable.

While fetching water Cinduri encounters a large white snake with a red jewel on its head. He seems very distressed to find a beautiful girl dressed in rags and hungry. He waves his head and a plate of wonderful food on a golden plate is provided to the hungry girl. After she eats, the snake offers to become her Godfather and continue to help her. He teaches her a song that will summon him when he is needed.

The snake continues to feed the girl and her stepmother discovers her secret just as Cinduri rushes in to tell them that the Crown Prince will be arriving for the ninth night of the Navaratri Festival. As is traditional with Cinderella stories, Cinduri is forbidden to go. Godfather snake comes through with appropriate attire and the traditional warning to be home before midnight.

At the Festival, she meets her Prince and loses her anklet as she flees at midnight. When the Prince comes to try the anklet on, her stepmother tries to prevent her from having a chance to meet the Prince by providing her with endless chores. She uses the magic left over from her Godfather Snake and finishes the chores in record time. She marries the Prince and brings Godfather Snake to the Palace to watch over her new family.

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Gingerbread Pirate

Lately I have been doing quite a bit of crocheting that involves gingerbread men and pirates. When I saw the title, The Gingerbread Pirates I knew I needed to borrow the library's copy to decide if it was worth purchasing.

This story does not follow the traditional gingerbread tale like the The Library Gingerbread Man I previously reviewed. This story is about a family tradition of making cookies to leave for Santa. As the boy in this story is going through a pirate phase, he chooses to make pirate gingerbread cookies and saves the captain from being eaten by taking him to bed with him.

This is one brave pirate cookie. Hearing horrifying tales of a scary cookie eater, he vows to rescue his men. His meeting with Santa and Santa's gift to him and his men makes this a very sweet Christmas story. I will be looking for a copy for this year's Christmas box, as pirates are still big.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Korean Cinderella

The Korean Cinderella (Trophy Picture Books (Paperback))is another Cinderella tale retold by Shirley Climo. Those familiar with the traditional Grimm's tale will find much they recognize in the Korean version.

In this tale, Pear Blossom has a happy life with her parents until the death of her mother. In his distressed state, her father goes to a matchmaker to find a mother for his daughter. She matches him with a widow who has a daughter about the same age as his own. From here, the story becomes very familiar to those who know the Cinderella tale. Only the cultural details of her life with her stepmother differ. Her stepmother works her hard and her distraught father provides little support. Her stepmother constantly threatens to send her off if her work is not completed.

As the tasks get more impossible, Pear Blossom encounters a tokgabi, or goblin that appears in the form of animals that help her as each task grows more difficult. A frog closes the hole in a water jug that will not hold water. Sparrows help her to hull a huge sack of rice her stepmother scatters in the courtyard. Finally, an ox helps her weed the rice paddies so she may attend the festival, providing her with suitable food for the celebration. Along the road, she is startled by the local magistrate and loses her sandal. Fearing she is in trouble, she runs away and sits alone at the festival enjoying her food and all the sites. As she is finishing her food, her stepmother spots her. Pear Blossom attempts to explain how finished her task, but her explanation only angers her stepmother. The stepmother is stopped in the middle of her tirade when the magistrate's servants announce they are looking for the owner of the sandal the magistrate found.

Her stepsister convinced Pear Blossom was about to be arrested quickly points the servants to her sister. Instead of being arrested, the magistrate of course wants to marry the mysterious girl who ran away.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Sir Cumference and the Viking's Map

In Sir Cumference and the Viking's Map (Charlesbridge Math Adventures (Paperback))Cindy Neuschwander continues her Sir Cumference series with an exploration of coordinate geometry.

Radius and Per discover Viking Xaxon Yellowbearyd's map with axes (yes a play on the word axis) and must learn how to read the gridded map. It appears maps are not common in Angleland. The children learn through trial and error that the X is read before the Y and decide that it is because X comes before Y in the alphabet. The children are chased by robbers who want to capture the treasure and helped by the ghost of Xaxon Yellowbearyd himself. Children may be surprised by the treasure, but it ties to the skills Per and Radius have acquired from their journey and more valuable to the kingdom than gold.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Way Meat Loves Salt A Cinderella Tale from the Jewish Tradition

Like the Mexican Cinderella, Domítíla: A Cinderella Tale from the Mexican Traditionthis version,The Way Meat Loves Salt: A Cinderella Tale from the Jewish Traditiondoes not have the traditional format of a Cinderella story.

In this version, a Rabbi lives with his wife and three daughters in Poland. He asks his children how much they love them. The older daughters give predictable answers, but his youngest tells him, "she loves him the way meat loves salt." For some reason the man is unreasonably insulted and banishes her from the house.

The upset child flees from the house where she meets an old man who she will later realize is the prophet Elijah. He gives her a stick that will grant her wishes when she taps it three times. He also sends her to the home of another Rabbi, Rabbi Yitskhok ben Levi who has a wife and son. She arrives distressed and unable to eat or speak. The Rabbi's family takes her in and allows her to stay in the attic.

The family heads for a wedding feast in Cracow the next day leaving the girl behind. She uses her magic stick to get appropriate clothing and transportation to the wedding. Of course, the Rabbi's son is unable to recognize the distressed girl of the attic and is entranced by the beautiful girl who mysteriously arrives at the wedding. In keeping with Cinderella tradition, the Rabbi's son leaves tar outside the house where the celebration was taking place. When Mireleh leaves to beat the family home from the wedding, she loses a shoe in the tar. She does arrive back to the attic before the Rabbi and his family make it home.

The Rabbi's son sets off on a quest to find the girl and is shocked when the beggar girl requests a chance to try on the shoe. She demonstrates her magic stick and he returns to his parents to explain that while he knows nothing of her past, she has an amazing gift.

The story continues with the wedding ceremony where the bride orders the meal to be cooked without salt. A careful reader will guess the bride's motives. There are no evil step relatives in this version and an interesting lesson on the purpose of salt.

Monday, August 6, 2012

The Library Gingerbread Man

The Library Gingerbread Man is a cute retelling of the Gingerbread story designed to introduce children to the Dewey Decimal system.

Children familiar with the Gingerbread Man's story will quickly recognize his, "Run, run fast as you can" speech. However, Dotti Enderle has cleverly blended the old with the new to introduce characters the Gingerbread Man meets as he wanders through the Dewey decimal system and those he meets in the aisles urge him to return to his book before something dangerous happens.

Children who have heard the original story will recognize the Gingerbread Man's enemy. However, the author adds a clever twist in line with the books theme. The librarian rescues him getting him safely back into his book and reshelved according to his Dewey number.
This is a great way to introduce children to the Dewey system. I must confess mine was a bit rusty and I had to check on a few numbers as I was reading the story.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Domitila A Cinderella Tale from the Mexican Tradition

Domítíla: A Cinderella Tale from the Mexican Traditionis one of the more complicated Cinderella tales. The story begins with Domitila's family alive, but struggling on a ranch in Mexico. After rain destroys their home and makes Domitila's mother ill she heads off to work in the Governor's mansion where her mother's training helps her to become a successful cook. As a reward for her success, she is given the chance to provide a meal for the governor's son and his Abuela.

She cooks a meal her mother taught her to cook and the grandson Timoteo is rude about the quality of food provided. His grandmother rebukes him and insists he try the food. He is quite impressed with the taste and becomes determined to find out more about the food.

Domitila receives word that her mother is very ill and she must return home. Sadly, she fails to return home before her mother dies. This is where the Cinderella part of the story starts to form. The Governor's son decides he must locate the woman who can cook so well and sets out to find her. He encounters a widow on his journey who sends him on an extended journey. She sees an opportunity for her own daughter and heads off to comfort the grieving father. He of course marries her and the traditional Cinderella evil stepmother and sister portion of the story is established.

In this version, she is hoping she can pass her daughter off as Domitila when Timoteo arrives. Timoteo is not the Prince Charming many think of when they are looking for Cinderella princes, but he does grow into the role.