cover image The Orphan: A Cinderella Story from Greece

The Orphan: A Cinderella Story from Greece

Anthony L. Manna and Soula Mitakidou, illus. by Giselle Potter. Random/Schwartz & Wade, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-375-86691-3

This retelling from the team behind Mr. Semolina-Semolinus: A Greek Folktale (1997) is close enough to the French version to satisfy young Cinderella-lovers, while sufficiently different to offer new color and interest. Cinderella's fairy godmother is replaced by Mother Nature and her many children (the Meadows give her three beautiful dresses; the Sea, tiny blue slippers). Details about Cinderella's bathwater (musk-scented), privations (her stepmother "counted every drop of water the orphan was allowed to drink"), and technique for escaping the prince's ball (she scatters gold coins to distract pursuers) establish authority, while help from Cinderella's dead mother, whose voice returns to Cinderella at crucial moments ("Go, my child, go to good,/ Don't cry and don't despair"), make the heroine's plight seem less lonely. The doll-like faces and stiff limbs of Potter's na%C3%AFve-style watercolor figures suit the fairy-tale setting, and the pictures of tiny tailors and jewelers fawning before the pudgy stepsisters give the otherwise earnest story mordant humor. This Cinderella somehow seems more resourceful than her French counterpart, and her happy ending more dearly earned. Ages 4%E2%80%938. (Sept.)