The colorfully rich illustrations complete the retelling
Buy Cinderella of the Nile
Like many other young and not-so-young readers, I love fairy tales. I especially love seeing how versions differ across regions and eras, even as the story themes remain the same.
In Cinderella of the Nile, I found several aspects of the storyline that differed from the popular version of my youth. For instance, this story lacks an evil stepmother and a fairy godmother. Instead, Rhodopis begins life with loving parents in a simple village in northern Greece where she herds goats. Then, pirates kidnap her and she enters a life where slave traders and owners determine her fate. Interestingly, she starts life in Europe and ends up as a slave in Africa – opposite to the slave route that most slaves endured, and opposite to the route that many refugees and migrants now travel. The inclusion of piracy, slavery and the reversal of this route will, I think, lead to thought-provoking discussions, especially with older children.
In lieu of a fairy godmother, Naidoo includes a well-known storyteller/philosopher, Aesop, who befriends Rhodopis and counsels her to “bend, not break” when faced with difficulties. That and her kindness to various creatures lead to her meeting, and union with, the princely pharaoh.
The themes of Cinderella, the power of kindness, adapting to one’s circumstances, and love, shine through in Cinderella of the Nile. I think children also will enjoy seeing how this tale features characters of varying skin tones and ethnicities, how a noted storyteller, Aesop, plays a role in the outcome, and how kindness to all creatures benefits Cinderella, even without the flick of a magic wand or the transformation of a pumpkin into a carriage.
Vafaeian’s colorfully rich illustrations not only complement but complete Naidoo’s retelling. With her “fine red curls,” Rhodopis is a focal point of every illustration, standing out even among the vibrant flora and fauna that fill every page. I also love that Cinderella and her pharaoh are an interracial couple, as shown in the last gorgeous spread.
- Read a review by Kirkus Reviews: Cinderella of the Nile is a rich addition to the global fairy-tale collection!
- An eight year old says why she loves Cinderella of the Nile!
- Cinderella of the Nile featured in The Wall Street Journal
- Cinderella of the Nile is required reading for anyone interested in fairytales
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