cover image Cendrillon: A Caribbean Cinderella

Cendrillon: A Caribbean Cinderella

Robert D. San Souci. Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, $17 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-689-80668-1

""You may think you know this story I am going to tell you, but you have not heard it for true,"" begins the washerwoman and unlikely godmother who narrates this spirited retelling. From the team behind The Faithful Friend comes an adaptation of a Creole tale that recasts familiar elements into the fashions and customs of the colonial West Indies. There is the haughty stepmother Prosperine, ""puffed-up proud because her grandfather had come from France,"" the godmother who taps a breadfruit with a mahogany wand and transforms it into a carriage, and Cendrillon, who escapes at midnight with one pink slipper embroidered with roses. Pinkney's oil and scratchboard illustrations burst with vigorous movement as he captures the exotic palette and the lush textures of the ""green-green island in the so-blue Mer des Antilles."" The lyrical cadences of the text spattered with French and Creole words combine with the sensuous paintings to bring the tropics to life. However, the story's charm lies not in the well-matched Caribbean bride and groom or in the (rather predictable) happy ending, but in the authentic voice of the godmother. Her affection for the kind Cendrillon inspires her bold and selfless acts to ensure the happiness of another (and her quirky foibles prove equally appealing as she indulges in bowl after bowl of chocolate sherbet while proudly watching the couple's nuptials). Through this colorful and deeply human godmother, readers witness the enduring power of love. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)