We decided to investigate resources related to the traditional tale of Perrault's Cinderella vs. Cinderellas from various cultures. Vasilisa is a traditional Russian heroine and the original Cinderella is a tale that was written by Perrault originally and later revisited by the brothers Grimm. There are Cinderella stories and versions in every culture, allowing for cultural differences and similarities; however, we have decided in a Perrault version for the basis of our comparisons. A century ago, folklorist Andrew Lang said, "Nobody can write a new fairy tale; you can only mix up the old stories and put characters into new dresses."(book jacket, The Egyptian Cinderella). We chose these resources for the purpose of making students active and critical readers.

Works found and Annotations:

Baba Yaga and Vasilisa the Brave Book Cover

Baba Yaga and Vasilisa the Brave

As told by: Mayer, Mariana, Illustrated by Craft, K.Y. Baba Yaga and Vasilisa the Brave. Morrow Junior Books, New York. ISBN 0-688-08500-8, $16.95.

This beautiful picture book relates one of the many stories of Baba Yaga the witch, and Vasilisa. The author offers no explanation about the source, but other retellings support it. Baba Yaga lives in the forest, in her house with chicken legs and her favorite food is human flesh. Vasilisa is a young orphan girl left to the care of her evil stepmother and her stepsisters. Vasilisa did chores and every menial task, her only comfort was a doll sewn by her mother that she always kept close to her. One night, their candle goes out and they are all unable to light a single light; so the stepmother sends Vasilisa to ask Baba Yaga for a light. Reluctantly, Vasilisa goes, but she is soon soothed by her doll, who tells her what to do. In the forest, she sees a white stallion and rider, then red stallion and rider and at last, when night fell again a black horse and rider. She soon approaches Baba Yaga’s fence of bones; the witch discovers her and tells her to come inside. When Vasilisa asks for the light, Baba Yaga tells her that she must work for her first. Baba Yaga tells her to cook and clean, each time a harder job than before, but each night as Vasilisa seems to be ready to fall, exhausted, her doll takes over the job. In the morning, everything is as Baba Yaga has commanded. She cooks a feast, separates the wheat from the chaff, washes, and cleans. Baba Yaga is surprised, but gives Vasilisa a harder job still: to find a lost needle in one of the haystacks and remove the dust from the poppy seeds. The doll helps again and Baba Yaga is finally satisfied with Vasilisa and lets her go, giving her the needed light, also she tells her that the riders are the daybreak, the red sun and the night knights. Then Vasilisa confesses how she was able to do the work. Baba Yaga does not like the answer, since she abhors anything to do with love. Baba Yaga gives Vasilisa the light in a skull and tells her not to forget to give it to her step mother. Vasilisa starts back to her house and she arrives at midnight. To her surprise, her family has been in a magical night ever since Vasilisa left; when Vasilisa gives them the light, the skull comes to life and engulfs them in fire, where they die. Vasilisa moves to town, finds a kind woman to live with and begins threading cloth; she does such a fine job that soon the tsar’s men purchase some of her cloth for the tsar. The tsar falls in love at first sight and marries Vasilisa, who always kept her doll close.
Perrault's Complete Fairy Tales Book Cover


Translated from the French by A.E. Johnson et al. with illustrations by W. Heath Robinson. PERRAULT'S COMPLETE FAIRY TALES. Dodd, Mead & Company, New York. 1961. $ 5.95.

Charles Perrault, a Frenchman (1628 – 1703) is commonly thought of as the first author of Cinderella, followed by the Grimm Brothers, Jacob (1785 - 1863) and Wilhelm (1786 - 1859) who were German and for the most part collectors of folk tales.
This volume of tales includes the story of Cinderella, and the familiar ingredients are there: the father of Cinderella marries a widow with 2 daughters, who receive preference. Cinderella is relegated to a subservient role and she does not complain. The king gives a ball and the sisters get their best finery ready to attend the ball, Cinderella even fixes their hair, and the sisters ask her in jest if she would like to attend. Cinderella humbly says that is no place for her. When the sisters leave, Cinderella cries and her god mother, who is a fairy, comes to comfort her and asks her if she wants to go, when Cinderella agrees, the godmother asks for a pumpkin, which gets scooped out, she gets 6 live mice from the mouse traps, as well as a fat rat. The pumpkin gets converted into a coach, the mice into horses, the rat into a coachman and six lizards into lackeys. Cinderella's rags get turned into beautiful and bejeweled garments and she goes to the ball, not before the god mother warned her to come before midnight. She dances with the prince, where she is described to be admired by other partygoers for her beauty and grace, and she is not recognized by her sisters. She returns home on time, only to go back to the ball the next night, in finer garb than before, this night, however, she forgot to go back on time and forgot one of her glass slippers. The magic wears off and Cinderella arrives home in her regular shabby clothes, but the other glass slipper had remained. The prince starts a search, trying the slipper on all the girls in the country, when he brings it to Cinderella's house; it fits only Cinderella, who draws the other slipper from her apron. She quickly embraces and forgives her two sisters, and then she marries the prince. At the end of this story, two morals in verses are included; one says that graciousness is the real gift of the godmother, the gift that has taught her to be a queen; the other is that a blessing of a godmother or father is worth more than other riches.
Billy Beg And His Bull Book Cover

Billy Beg And His Bull An Irish Tale.
Greene, Ellen. Billy Beg And His Bull An Irish Tale. Illus. by Kimberly Bulcken Root. 1994. 32p. Holiday House. $15.95. (0-8234-1100-1)
A lively retelling of a popular Irish tale found in many anthologies, this story is based on a published collection, In Chimney Corners (Doubleday and McClure, 1899). Billy Beg's mother gives him a magical bull calf just before she dies. When his stepmother tries to rid herself of the bull and of Billy, the two escape. The bull gives the young man a magical napkin that provides food when unfolded, a stick that turns into a sword, and a belt that makes him invincible. After a series of adventures in which Billy slays giants with multiple heads and saves a damsel from a dragon, he loses a shoe. Like Cinderella, the princess declares that she will marry the man who fits it, and once reunited, the couple "live happy and well from that day to this."
The author notes that this story is based on a great Irish shanachie, Seumas MacManus. In Ellen Greene's retelling of his version she wanted to retain the language that was characteristic of Irish folktales. In the book title, for example, "beg" or "beag" (Irish spelling) means small. It is interesting to have a Cinderella story line with the male protagonist.
The Snow Maiden and Other Russian Tales Book Cover

Marshall, Bonnie. (Translated and retold by) THE SNOW MAIDEN AND OTHER RUSIAN FOLKTALES. A Russian folktale translated and retold by Bonnie C. Marshall. 2004. 153 p. Libraries Unlimited, Westport, CT. $40.00 ISBN (156308998)

This scholarly book starts with an introduction on the origin of the Slav people, Russian history, Tsarist Russia, the revolution, the Soviet era, the Cold war and the fall of the Soviet Union. It details the history of Russian folktales and how its transmission was affected by the political events of the last 2 centuries. The author is a scholar who has traveled to Russia and has translated texts and participated in exchange programs in Moscow State University. She was aided in her project by professors of folklore and Russian literature. After the fall of Communism, she was finally able to do fieldwork in Russia, which had been forbidden to visitors before. She has taught English in the University in Saint Petersburg (formerly Leningrad). She is currently a professor of Russian Studies at Johnson C. Smith University in New Hampshire. She divided the folktales in categories: Animal tales, fairy tales, tales of everyday life, tales of spirits and the supernatural. This last category is what in Russian is called bylichki, and they constitute a unique genre, its study and propagation was discouraged during the Soviet era. These type of folktales are called memorates in America and deal with events that happened to the narrator or a close contact. They deal with encounters with supernatural being such as werewolves, mermaids, goblins, etc. This is not an illustrated book, but a collection of folktales as heard by the researcher. This book includes the tale "The Tails". I was unable to find any reviews for this book.
The Egyptian Cinderella Book Cover

The Egyptian Cinderella.
Climo, Shirley. The Egyptian Cinderella. Illus. by Ruth Heller. 1989. 32p. Harper Collins Publisher. $18.99. (069004822X)
The story of Rhodopis, a Greek slave girl in ancient Egypt, is an interesting variant of the traditional Cinderella legend. Because of her rosy complexion and fair hair, Rhodopis is scorned and teased by the Egyptian servant girls who work for her kind but disinterested master. Rhodopis' happy fate, becoming the wife of Pharaoh Amasis, is accomplished through the intercession of the great falcon, symbol of the god Horus. When the majestic bird deposits one of Rhodopis' rosy-gold slippers, a gift from her master, in the lap of the Pharaoh, he determines this to be a signal from the gods to marry the maiden whose foot it fits. A stunning combination of fluent prose and exquisitely wrought illustrations. Shirley Climo has woven an ancient tale, a mixture of fact and myth, with clarity and eloquence. The beauty of the text is off set by Ruth Heller's arresting full-color illustrations.
This book contains powerful visual presentations reminiscent of the figures on Egyptian frieze paintings and carvings. The information about Egyptian mythology and civilization are subtly interwoven into the traditional folktale.
Domitila Book Cover

Domitila: A Cinderella Tale from the Mexican Tradition.
Reinhart Coburn, Jewel. Domitila: A Cinderella Tale from the Mexican Tradition. Illus. by Connie McLennan. 2000. 29p. Shen's Books. $16.95. (1885008139)
There are no glass slippers in this tale based on folklore from Hidalgo, Mexico, but elements of the Cinderella story remain. When her mother grows ill, Domitila, a skilled cook and craftswoman, takes a job at the governor's house. Timoteo, the governor's son, loves her exceptional dishes, but Domitila's mother dies, and she returns home before Timoteo meets her. He travels the state, asking the locals about "the girl who can make delicacies from desert weeds," and meets evil Malvina, who schemes to marry Domitila's grieving father and present her own lazy daughter to Timoteo as the woman he seeks. Luckily, Timoteo meets Domitila by chance, and the expected happy ending ensues: love, marriage, and a new life in the governor's house. Connie McLennan's oil illustrations and the text tell the story beautifully. Every text box is framed with bilingual aphorisms to inspire the reader. This is a moralistic story with the familiar fairy tale. Every reader will come away with an expanded sense of the region's landscape and culture. The author has included a brief glossary and a regional recipe.

The Golden Sandal: A Middle Eastern Cinderella Story

Hicox, Rebecca. The Golden Sandal: A Middle Eastern Cinderella Story. Illustrated by Will Hillenbrand. 1999. 32 p. Holiday House. $17.95. (978-0823415137)
This beautiful tale has its origin in the Iraqi folktale "The Little Red Fish and the Clog of Gold". The setting is familiar, Maha is the daughter of a widowed man who has remarried with a woman who has 2 daughters. The stepmother and sisters are mean to Maha and make her do all the work. Instead of a Godmother, Maha frees a fish, who concedes her a wish. Maha goes to a woman-only party, where she meets the mother of Tariq, described as son of a rich merchant; instead of a prince. As she rushes home, she loses a slipper, Tariq finds it and looks for Maha. The story is wonderfully illustrated with Middle eastern architecture and the description of women-only parties and the difference in cultures with ours make this a valuable compare/contrast book.

Sootface: An Ojibwa Cinderella Story

San Souci, Robert. (written and illustrated by) Sootface: An Ojibwa Cinderella Story. 1997, 32 p. Dragonfly Books. $17.20. (978-0440413639)
In this Cinderella variant, she is called by her stepsisters "Sootface" because as she keeps the cooking fire, she has singed her hair and has a sooty face. Sootface has 2 stepsisters who are mean to her and in that tribe, there is a brave warrior who is invisible; when he wants to marry, he tells his sister to convey that message to eligible maidens. The one who can see him is the one he will marry. As one after another maiden, including the stepsisters fail to see him, Sootface dresses up the best she can and wipes her face and she readily sees him and his bow made out of a rainbow.
The author is an outsider to the culture but has placed his sources in the first page, the sources include museums and libraries.

The Gift of the Crocodile: A Cinderella Story

Sierra, Judy The Gift of the Crocodile: A Cinderella Story. Illustrated by Ruffins, Reynold. 2000. 40 p. Simon & Schuster. $ 17.95 (978-0689821882 )

In this Indonesian version of Cinderella, the godmother is a crocodile, the godmother crocodile sees how Damura (Cinderella) is kindhearted and gives her a silver sarong to replace her tattered sarong that she lost in the river. The stepsister (only one) goes to the river to demand a silver sarong too; she receives a sarong full of leeches. Later on, the prince gives a ball and Damura is supplied with a golden sarong and slippers, she loses one, the prince finds it and finds her. The story does not end as Damura marries the prince, because the jealous stepmother and sister throw Damura to the river afterwards, intending to keep the prince. Grandmother crocodile tells her river children of Damura's fate and the guilty crocodile spits her out.
This is a very colorful variant of the Cinderella theme.
We have included realia to make our lesson more engaging to students: The woven shoes are called lapti, and were work by Slavic peasants well until the 20th century. They are still worn in traditional folk dances. We will introduce Cinderella by displaying items one at a time from the "book talk box" reflecting story elements from the fairytale. The "book talk box" might include: a pumpkin, a mouse, a glass slipper, a magic wand, an apron, a piece of coal, and a clock set at midnight.
mouse.JPG MC900434864.PNG
Lapti, Slavic shoes
Lapti, used by Slavic Peasants.
Accessed online at
on 7/26/10

This glass shoe was accessed online at http://www.carolmilne.com/artwork/cid_100/ftid_162.html
on 7/26/10
1. http://docstoc.com/docs/26157106/Cinderellascript
2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cinderella
3. http://nancykeane.com/rl/322.htm
4. http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/type0510a.html
5. http://www.teachertube.com/viewVideo.php?video_id=95553&title=Cinderella_Updated
6. http://www.learner.org/interactives/story/index.html
7. [[http://teachwithpicturebooks.blogspot.com/2010/02/cinderella-tale-mirror-of-culture.html ]]
9.Exploring Ancient World Cultures: an Introduction to Ancient World Cultures on the World Wide Web
10.Washington State University: World Civilizations
Brief explanation of websites
1. A document that includes a script for readers' theatre
2. A Wikipedia article that compares several versions of Cinderella, including both Grimm and Perrault's versions
3. A brief list of Cinderella versions, organized by continent.
4. A very complete Cinderella website hosted by the University of Pittsburgh
5. Video made by middle school students in teacher tube
6. Interactive educational video programs with coordinated Web and printed materials.
7. Cinderella variant book resources.
8. Additional Cinderella variant book resource.
9. Link to website for student research of cultures.
10. Link to website for student research of cultures.
We found this video in teachertube, it is a product of students and it is a "modern" Cinderella as viewed by middle school students: Cinderella's dress has been "fed-exed" by her god mother, who was busy taking care of Snow White's divorce. Cinderella is not happy with the ball or the prince and she leaves the ball. She takes off her high heel shoes outside the ball. Her fairy god mother senses her frustration and appears with her new clothes and roller skates. This video might be used to pique student's interest in the subject of Cinderella.

Reel Grrls "Cinderella Updated." youtube. Web. 24 Jul 2010.
Note regarding formats:
Most of the works selected are in the form of picture books, since many Cinderellas come from the oral tradition, they have been illustrated as Children stories. Since there are many commercial products around this theme, it is difficult to find culturally authentic videos or stories untainted by the Cinderella meme.

Climo, Shirley, The Egyptian Cinderella. New York: Haper Collins, 1989.

Coburn, Jewel Reinhart, Domitila: a Cinderella tale from the Mexican tradition. California: Shen's Bks., 2000.

Docstock. Public domain. http://docstoc.com/docs/26157106/Cinderellascript Web. 24 Jul 2010

Greene, Ellen, Billy Beg and his bull: an Irish tale. New York: Holiday House, 1994.

Hicox, Rebecca. The Golden Sandal: A Middle Eastern Cinderella Story. Illustrated by Will Hillenbrand. 1999.

Marshall, Bonnie, The snow maiden and other Russian folktales. Connecticut: Libraries Unlimited, 2004.

Mayer, Mariana, Baba Yaga and Vasilisa the brave. New York: Morrow Junior Bk., 1994.

Perrault, Charles, Parrault's complete fairy tales. New York: Dodd, Mead & Co., 1961.

Reel Grrls "Cinderella Updated." Teachertube. http://www.teachertube.com/viewVideo.php?video_id=95553&title=Cinderella_UpdatedWeb. 24 Jul 2010.

San Souci, Robert. (written and illustrated by) Sootface: An Ojibwa Cinderella Story. 1997.

Sierra, Judy The Gift of the Crocodile: A Cinderella Story. Illustrated by Ruffins, Reynold. 2000.

Works Consulted

Annenberg Media. Learner.org http://www.learner.org/interactives/story/index.html Web. Accessed July 2010

Ashliman, D. L. University of Pittsburgh. http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/type0510a.html Web. Accessed July 22.

Booklinks. ALA. http://www.ala.org/ala/aboutala/offices/publishing/booklinks/resources/multicultural.cfm May 2000 (v.9 no.5) Web. July 2010

Cooper, Ilene. "The Egyptian Cinderella (Book Review)." Booklist 86(1989): 68. Article Citation Web. 14 July 2010.

Dundes, Alan. Cinderella: A Folklore Casebook. New York, New York: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1982.

Encyclopedia of World Cultures. New York: Marshall Cavendish, 1998.

Engberg, Gillian. "Domitila (Book Review)." Booklist 96.18 (2000): 1751-5. Article Citation. Web. 11 July 2010.

Greenfield, Judith C. "Nine Hundred Cinderellas." Faces (07491387) 24, no. 3 (November 2007): 42. Middle Search Plus, EBSCOhost (accessed July 10, 2010).

Goodwin, Katherine. In Search of Cinderella: A Curriculum for the 21st Century. Fremont California: Shen's Books, Inc., 2000

Harrison, Kathryn. "Domitila (Book Review)." The New York Times Book Review 105.47 (2000): 24. Article Citation. Web. 11 July 2010.

Hearne, Betsy. "The Egyptian Cinderella (Book Review)." Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books 43(1989): 30. Article Citation. Web. 14 July 2010.

Hemminger, Bill. "Exploring Ancient World Cultures". University of Evansville. 1997 http://eawc.evansville.edu/.

Hooker, Richard. "World Civilizations". Washungton State University. 1996 <http://www.wsu.edu:8080/~dee/>.

Keane, Nancy, J. http://nancykeane.com/rl/322.htm Web. Accessed July 23

LSI: LIT SCENE INVESTIGATION PLOT POINTS. Read [serial online]. November 2, 2007;57(6):18. Available from: Middle Search Plus, Ipswich, MA. Accessed July 10, 2010.

"LSI: LIT SCENE INVESTIGATION PLOT POINTS." Read 57, no. 6 (November 2, 2007): 18. Middle Search Plus, EBSCOhost (accessed July 10, 2010).

Man, Myth & Magic: the Illustrated Encyclopedia of Mythology, Religion and the Unknown. New York: Marshall Cavendish,1985.
Sierra, Judy. Cinderella: The Oryx Multicultural Folktale Series. Phoenix, Arizona: The Oryx Press, 1992.
Teach With Picture Books. Blogspot.com http://teachwithpicturebooks.blogspot.com/2010/02/cinderella-tale-mirror-of-culture.html Web. July 2010

TWU databases, Middle Search, Ebsco

Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cinderella Web. accesed July 26, 2010

Microsoft clipart.