After being struck dumb by Julie Paschkis' snowflake over at the Excelsior File, I couldn't say no when one of the books she illustrated caught my eye at the library. Glass Slipper, Golden Sandal, by Paul Fleishman, illustrated by Julie Paschkis (2007, 32 pp), is subtitled "A Worldwide Cinderella" which sums it up nicely (and, for parents who like books to multi-task, it promises geographical as well as literary benefit for the Young)--basically, it is bits of Cinderella stories from around the world, joined together in a single narrative: the cow "poured honey for her from its horn...and a fairy gave her figs and apricots...and Godfather Snake gave her rice." Each place has its own beautiful illustrations, which are a cross-cultural education in themselves.
"Here, boys," I said when I got home from the library. "Come read with me."
"Read what?" they asked, suspiciously.
"This book about Cinderella!"
Their jaws dropped. "Cinderella???" they whined. Unspoken, the words "disney" "princess" and "pink" hung in the air.
"Yes," I said, "Come here."
Miraculously, they came, and we read the book. And they loved it, and I loved it, and it was indeed both a literary and a geographical trip. Because the story moves from place to place, tale to tale, culture to culture, making no attempt to explain or apologize for discongruities, it has a surreality to it that makes it freshly magical to people like me (who have in fact seen Disney's Cinderella) and makes it enchanting for people like my boys (who haven't). They have asked to have it read repeatedly (and what higher praise is there), and they think it would be a nice Christmas present for their girl cousin. And, of course, her little brother.
So now the ice is broken, and I shall try reading them other princess stories...