Tomie dePaola is hands-down one of my favorite children’s storyteller/illustrators. This retelling of Cinderella is one of his better books, in my opinion.
One thing I like about this story is that it includes Spanish phrases integrated into the text. For example, this is how it opens:
“Hace mucho tiempo – a long time ago – in a village in Mexico, there lived a merchant named Franciso and his beautiful young wife, Adela. One day, Adela said, ‘Francisco, estamos esperando un bebe – we are going to have a baby.”
These phrases, which don’t appear as frequently as in the first paragraph of the story, are also included in a glossary at the end of the book, along with a phonetic pronunciation guide (always very handy!)
The story is also very cute; the characters are aware they are in a Cinderella-like story. For example, after the ball at which the Adelita appears giving her name as “Cenicienta” (Cinderella), the stepmother and her daughters discuss what happened:
“‘I’m so glad no one knows who she is,’ Valentina said.
‘Or where she is,’ Dulce said.
‘And no zapatilla de cristal – glass slipper!’ Dona Micaela added.”
And of course at the end, Adelita, who, as in the original, forgives her evil step-family, says:
“‘And just like Cenicienta and her Principe – Prince – we shall live muy felices por siempre – happily ever after – too!’ Javier said.”
Evaluation: What a lovely way to learn Spanish! The story is fun and the vibrant acrylics by dePaola couldn’t be any better! The double page spreads, bordered with Mexican tiles, are bursting with warm colors and depictions of Mexican culture. The range of expressions that so ably reflect the text reveal the rich possibilities of Mexican folk art.
Published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons, a division of Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers, 2002