Thursday, February 20, 2014

A Golden Sandal: A Middle Eastern Cinderella Story

A Golden Sandal: A Middle Eastern Cinderella Story is by Rebecca Hickox and illustrated by Will Hillenbrand.  It was published by Holiday House in 1998.

There were several similarities between A Golden Sandal and the Disney version of Cinderella that I have grown up hearing.  Both girls were motherless and ended up with a selfish, hateful stepmother and stepsister, both were beautiful from the inside out and both went to a party where a shoe was lost. That is where the similarities end. 

The Middle Eastern version had quite a few twists to it.  The first thing that I noticed was that Maha's father never passed away.  In most of the Cinderella stories that I have read, the daughter gets stuck with the stepmother because there is no longer a father.  I found it interesting that in this version, the father was alive and well, although after about the fifth page opening, they didn't mention him anymore. Another difference is that Maha received all of her help from a fish. When she was a young girl. she had saved the fish from dying, and it, in turn, told her that she could come to him for anything she needed help with throughout her life.  She did go to him several times, including asking him for help the night that all of the townspeople were invited to  meet the new bride of the master merchant. The fish gave her fine clothes and golden sandals to wear. Where she traveled to was also different in this book.  She was not going to meet the prince of her dreams, but the bride of the master merchant.  She never met a man at the party, but her sandal did slip off at the end of the  night. The brother of the master merchant found the sandal, and, never seeing or meeting Maha before, he knew he had to marry her. His mother went to each of the houses in the village until she found Maha. 

A Golden Sandal has many of the characteristics of a traditional tale.  Although it doesn't begin, "Once upon a time...," it does begin with the problem stated immediately.  You learn right away that she does not have a mother and she wants her father to marry the neighbor down the road.  There are many more details throughout this story than in some of the other Cinderella tales. It follows the pattern of the problem being stated, a solution given and a quick resolution.  The 'evil' ones do not get what they want, as in this story, Maha's stepsister ends up losing all of her hair, has a head covered with blisters and smells foul so that no one will end up marrying her.

I found that the pictures matched well with the text in the story.  Maha, as the kind, loving person she was, is illustrated in bright colors, while the evil stepmother and sister are often shown in shadows or darkness.  The illustrations are full bleed, which allow for the reader to be immersed in the story the illustrations tell. The people are dressed to show traditional Middle Eastern clothing, which shows that the illustrator did some research to ensure authenticity.  The illustrator tells us, "The artwork for this book was done on vellum - a translucent paper.  Fore each picture, a copy of the final pencil drawing was placed in reverse on the underside of the vellum. Some underpainting was then done with oil paint or pastel to give the picture a color field..."  It amazes me that there are so many different and difficult ways to illustrate a book.  I had not realized thMaha.

at there was so many instances of a transfer of color instead of just drawing it.  He chose wisely, as the soft tones and muted colors work well with the kind nature of

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