Looking for a Multicultural Fairy Tale?
Look no further! Chloe Perkins and Sandra Equihua invigorate a familiar story by transporting Cinderella to Mexico. There are many different versions of this story, but this has to be the most vibrant and striking. Each page is abundant in colour and intricate detail, reminiscent of Mexican folk art.
I know Cinderella gets a bad rap these days, but this is slightly more progressive than the traditional fairy tale. Cinderella’s positive personality traits are focused on rather than her beauty. Similarly, the cruelty of her stepmother and stepsisters is emphasised and negative aspects of their appearances are not mentioned.
This is part of Simon & Schuster’s Once Upon a World collection, which sets beloved fairy tales in different cultures. The stories are illustrated by artists who share their heritage. The series places Rapunzel in India, The Little Mermaid in the Caribbean, Snow White in Japan and The Princess and the Pea in Russia.
Chloe Perkins is the author of several books for children. She has written four Once Upon a World titles and many Living In… books about growing up in countries around the world.
Sandra Equihua is an artist and animator whose work has been shown in galleries in Mexico and the United States. Equihua designed the characters for the 2014 film The Book of Life. She won an Emmy Award in 2008 and was the first Latina artist to receive this honour.
Did you know the Cinderella story has been traced back as far as Ancient Egypt? This character also surfaced in 9th Century China. Jonathan Bazzi wrote a brilliant article for Swide.com about Cinderella's various incarnations throughout history and around the world.
"The first fairy tales were feminist critiques of patriarchy,” writes Melissa Ashley in The Guardian. According to Ashley, the archetypes of classic fairy tale heroines were created by 17th century French female writers known as the conteuses. Ashley’s article mentions a variation of Cinderella called Finette Cendron (Cunning Cinders in English), written Madame d'Aulnoy in 1697.
Finette Cendron is a fierce heroine who relies on her superior wit and strength to determine her own fate. She bravely defeats ogres with her bare hands, while the prince is portrayed as delicate and fragile. Finette Cendron refuses to marry until the prince's family agrees to restore her own father’s estate. Although the tale ends with their wedding, marriage is not her main objective.
After reading Madame d'Aulnoy’s version, I thought a modern retelling of Cinderella that incorporated aspects of Finette Cendron would be amazing. How exciting would it be to see a princess battling an ogre? Then I remembered a book I bought recently, Don’t Mess with a Princess, and realised it’s already been done!
Don’t Mess with a Princess by Rachel Valentine and Rebecca Bagley is great fun, subversive, empowering AND diverse. If you prefer books in which female characters have more agency, then you’ll love Don’t Mess with a Princess and you can read my review here.
If you enjoy traditional fairy tales, then Cinderella by Chloe Perkins and Sandra Equihua is ideal. It’s in a sturdy board book format so it’s perfect for little hands to hold themselves. The text is suitable for younger children, while the intricate illustrations engage older readers.
We hope to get more of the titles in the Once Upon a World collection soon. If you have any of the others, let me know what you think of them.
Author: Chloe Perkins
Illustrator: Sandra Equihua
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: 13th September 2016