Buy Cinderella of the Nile
We are so thrilled that The Telegraph has named Cinderella of the Nile as one of the ‘The Best Children’s and Young Adult Books of 2018 (so far)’! In the list published last week by Emily Bearn, Cinderella of the Nile was awarded 4 stars, and is part of a selection of books that are ‘sure to keep even the most restless kids entertained through the school holidays’!
It’s hard to think of a story as unfashionable as that of Cinderella. In his 2015 film, Kenneth Branagh meant to portray his heroine as “strong and independent” – only to be hit with a backlash when his star, Lily James, admitted she had been on a liquid diet to fit into Cinderella’s corsets. But in this delightful retelling of an ancient Greek variant by Beverley Naidoo, our heroine wins the day without a fairy godmother or a fancy frock.
Our heroine is actually called Rhodopis, a Greek girl born “long, long ago” with “eyes like sapphires’ and hair “the colour of the finest sunset”. Rhodopis is no bra burner: “She collected water from the well, fed the chickens and did everything her parents asked with a smile. ‘You are our treasure!’ they said.” But when she is snatched by bandits and taken to Egypt to be sold as a slave, she shows her steel. “Blow wind, blow,/ I promise to be strong,” she sings to herself as the waves batter her ship – and when her fellow slave girls torment her, rubbing sand into her food, her resolve only grows: “Blow wind, blow,/ Watch me bend, not break!” Rather than moping in the slave hut, she is soon dancing by the banks of the Nile – and weaving her spell on the Pharaoh.
Africa has inspired much of Naidoo’s fiction. As a student, she was arrested for campaigning against apartheid, and her first book, Journey to Jo’burg (1985), about two children under the regime, was banned in South Africa until 1991. The Other Side of Truth (2000), a tale of Nigerian political refugees, won the Carnegie. Cinderella of the Nile – illustrated by Marjan Vafaeian – is another such story of triumph over adversity. It’s not exactly a feminist anthem, but perhaps a retelling of Cinderella was never going to be. Instead, Naidoo gives an ancient heroine a modern feel.
- Cinderella of the Nile is coming to Edinburgh International Book Festival! Buy tickets here!
- Listen to a podcast featuring Beverley Naidoo, Jack Zipes and Ann Lazim discussing the magic of fairytales
- Find out more about the history behind the beautiful illustrations of Cinderella of the Nile
- Read Beverley’s article explaining how she discovered the story of Cinderella of the Nile
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