Monday, February 17, 2014

Walt Disney's Cinderella

Walt Disney's Cinderella

Retold by:  Cynthia Rylant
Pictures by:  Mary Blair
Published:  Disney Press 2007

from bed, Cinderella felt this darkness all around her.  Still, she always went to her window and made a wish for her life."
"she wished for one thing only:  Love."

Cynthia Rylant has retold a classic and a tale that is familiar with many people, especially young girls.  It is a tale of a young girl, who's father passes away leaving her in the care of an evil stepmother.  Her stepmother treats her unfairly and like a little peasant doing all the work in the house and waiting on her stepsisters.  Then one day a prince is in search of a princess and throws a grand ball inviting all the single young ladies to the castle in hopes of one day one of them will be his queen.  Cinderella not allowed to go acquires the help of a fairy godmother whom makes her wishes come true.  She dresses her for the ball with magic that will expire at midnight.  At the ball Cinderella and the prince immediately fall in love only to be torn apart as Cinderella runs away at midnight leaving behind her glass slipper.  The glass slipper is picked up by the prince and then sent to be tried on by every young girl in the kingdom.  Cinderella tries it on and is whisked away for a happily ever after in the palace with her prince.  

This is the story of Cinderella that most are familiar with and the one that Rylant beautifully retells.  The story flows with beautiful language and great descriptions such as "Cinderella's tears then flowed like a fountain, now for joy, not sadness."  Rylant's writing tells a story of finding love.  The story itself is mostly about love.  The lack of it in Cinderella's life and how she finds it.   Although it does follow the Cinderella movie in plot it does seem to be a little bit over a child's head.  Rylant writes "who can say by what mystery two people find each other in this great wide world?"   "How does a young man find his maiden?"  "He touches her, he knows."  This seems a little bit much for children to understand.  It makes for beautiful reading and many adults or young adults would read it and swoon over the words but I don't think children would understand all of the love talk in the book.  I also was disappointed that it started out so dark and Cinderella seemed miserable and so alone.  I immediately thought about in the movie when she was dancing with her animal friends singing a dream is a wish your heart makes..... She did not seem so dark and lonely at that point and I thought this is not like the movie.  But then I remembered that this is a version of the movie retold by how Rylant saw it and wanted to portray it.  Should I dislike it based on how it matches the movie?  Then I told myself no.  Just because  the front cover and title, Walt Disney's Cinderella, makes you think about the movie, it was not meant to just word for word copy the movie. Anyone could have done that and I decided that although I do not think children will understand some of the book it is a beautiful book written with character because really anyone could have written the words in the movie down and added them to paper.  Rylant took the book to another level with her version.

The illustrations in the story also surprised me.  I thought that I would see still shots of the movie.  The movie that has vibrant crisp pictures.  The illustrations in the book however are less detailed and are what I believe to be from reading are the concept illustrations by Blair and not the final product.  They are equally as stunning but a little dark for my liking.  Especially at the ball and at the end of the story.  They are full bleed and really draw the reader into the story.  They also help to pace the story along well even if a reader was confused with the words they would know exactly what is happening in the illustrations.

I went back in forth with the idea of if I would use this in my classroom or not.  I finally decided that I would.  Even with some of the words over my children's heads, I would still like to read it to compare it to other Cinderella stories or as a compare/contrast with the movie it self.   I think it would lend to a lot of discussion and a great way to practice comparing.

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