Purpose of this Blog...

You may have noticed that not all books are equal in capturing children's imaginations and in cultivating those innocent, tender souls. My goal is to help you find the ones that do!
(Painting by Mary Cassatt: "Mrs Cassatt Reading to her Grandchildren" -1888)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


"I am a 'girly-girl' through and through. As a child, I loved dolls, ballet, tea parties, dress up, and fairy tales...something we always did together as a family, and that we were also encouraged and even required to do on our own, was to read. And, being the 'dainty' girl I was, one of my favorite stories of all time was CINDERELLA.

My mom found different adaptations of the story, featuring various storytellers' and illustrators' perspectives. I loved the story so much and I think I've always understood it as a tale of endurance. It seems that many fairytales are just that; however, I feel that Cinderella is in fact a true fairytale in the sense that the power of the story, the characters, and the morals of the tale, will live forever, even if it never took place in history. And not only that, apart from the Fairy Godmother (who really just bedazzled everyone a bit - as "Cinders" did all the real work), this rags to riches story could actually have (and has many times) happened in the real world.

You see, "Cinders" is a beautiful and lovely girl, who, even in what should be her moments of greatest despair, never loses hope, respect, patience, or love. Children can relate to and learn so much from this story. While we may not have all grown up with an evil stepmother and mean, tormenting stepsisters, or had only animals for friends, and endured patiently - until one day we stumble upon our fairy godmother who helps us meet our prince and makes all our dreams come true - any person can empathize with this story. In various ways we've been there - we've lived through a painful situation in life. But who can say that they offered kindness, respect, and love in return for the harsh treatment or hatred that might have been given? Children can often relate to the circumstances the princess finds herself in, yet the story teaches them to aspire to act and forgive like Cinderella (as she came to be called).

I watched the Disney CINDERELLA animated movie two or three times as a child, and certanly when I pictured her in my head, it was the face of this timeless and beautiful classic that I saw looking back at me. But even with its charm, enduring characters, beautiful animation, and enchanting score, the film can't take a child to the same place that the storybook can. In the film, the hard work is done for us (and what a work of imaginative genius it is!) allowing us the luxury of sitting back for an hour or two while we enjoy the tale unfolding before us. Yet, with the storybook, even with pictures, we learn to live and relate in a whole new way, as our imaginations do the hard work to lead us to the "happily ever after" on the last page.

Guess who?
I had the great privilege of representing Disney's Cinderella at the DISNEYLAND PARIS Theme Park in France for 8 months last year. I cannot tell you what a joy this "job" (though I laugh to call it that) was to me, and how much I learned about children there. So many of these little dears were concerned for me: for how my stepsisters had been treating me lately? For how hurt my feelings must have been when my stepmother said such mean things? For how sad I must have been for all those years up in my tower, all alone, only able to dream of happiness? They understood my story - my life - that it had been difficult and full of trials. And some of them even related in ways that made me very sad. Yet, with this heroine they always had the example of hope, of graceful acceptance, and everlasting endurance.

So, even as a woman now, I think I shall love this story forever! After all, it couldn't be pure coincidence that CINDERELLA was my favorite fairytale, my first Barbie, my favorite movie, my favorite Halloween costume, the centerpiece of my 10th birthday cake, my "model" for my first high school prom (which I attended with my very own Prince Charming - yes, we got married!), and my favorite job ever. But without the storybook, and the love for the special young girl - who was 'no less good than beautiful' - that it sparked in my imagination, none of this could have meant what it has, and that's the truth!"
The author and her Mom in front of Cinderella's coach, Disneyland Paris.

MARY'S favorite illustrators of CINDERELLA:
-MARCIA BROWN (sumptuous watercolors);
-RUTH SANDERSON (haven't actually read this one, but her adaptation of THE TWELVE DANCING PRINCESSES is incredible!);
-K.Y.CRAFT (illustrations are reminiscent of opulent 17-18th Century France);
-SUSAN JEFFERS (very natural looking artwork);
-WALT DISNEY'S CINDERELLA, by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Mary Blair;
-THE EGYPTIAN CINDERELLA, by Shirley Climo, illustrated by Ruth Heller

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