I love how the same threads of a story can be woven into a new tapestry

An article by Beverley Naidoo author of Cinderella of the Nile 

Buy Cinderella of the Nile 

Beverley Naidoo

 

From the time I was first introduced to Tiny Owl, I loved the chemistry and imagination of this tiny team! I could feel their dedication to books that subtly enrich children’s experience with threads of philosophy. Like the eponymous hero of The Little Black Fish, Tiny Owl’s founders are indeed brave.

The idea of retelling the earliest-known version of Cinderella has lingered in my mind for some time. ‘The Girl with the Rose-red Slippers’ is the final story in Roger Lancelyn Green’s classic Tales of Ancient Egypt. According to the ancient Greek historian Herodotus, Rhodopis was born in the mountainous north of Greece where she was captured by bandits in 6th century BC. She was first sold to a rich man on Samos, an island in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, more recently associated with refugees making perilous journeys as they flee war in Syria. 

I was particularly intrigued by references to her friendship with Aesop, a fellow slave on Samos. I imagined how the wise fables of this great African storyteller might have helped Rhodopis develop resilience. The magical Cinderella element emerges after she is sold again, this time in Egypt. I love how the same threads of a story that I have known since childhood can be rewoven into a different tapestry.

A spread from Cinderella of the Nile showing Aesop

Taking an old story and making it anew is satisfying in itself. But seeing it take on yet another life in Marjan Vafaeian’s illustrations, first in pencil then in stunning colours, has been a special pleasure. I’m hugely looking forward to Marjan’s visit from Iran in August and our joint events at the 2018 Edinburgh Book Festival

My thanks go as well to all those who have worked so hard on the project including my unstinting editor Sophie Hallam; art director Ken Wilson-Max; Delaram Ghanimifard for all the translating and communicating with Marjan; and Mateen Arghandehpour for giving me and Sophie an unforgettable tour of the Egyptian galleries at the British Museum!   

  • Read Beverley’s response to our Fairy Tale campaign
  • Check out the Tiny Owl authors who will be appearing at Edinburgh Book Festival
  • Read this introduction to our One Story, Many Voices series by Delaram Ghanimifard

 

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