Charles Perrault

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Charles Perrault was born on this day in 1628. Born into a wealthy family, he was very well educated. In 1697, he decided to published 'Tales and Stories of the Past with Morals (Histories ou Contes du Temps Passe) subtitled 'Tales of Mother Goose'. These tales were based on the French oral tradition and were very popular at the time. One of these stories was 'Cendrillon' (Cinderella), but this was not the first version of this story to be told.

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A couple of years ago, we did a post about different versions of this story from around the world. This year, we are determined to consider the importance of traditional tales, myths, legends and folklore so this seems like a good place to start. 

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A few days ago, we reviewed Sophie Anderson's lovely book, 'The House with Chicken Legs', a story rooted in the Baba Yaga tales. One of these stories, 'Baba Yaga and Vasilisa' follows the pattern of the Cinderella story. One re-telling of this is 'The Wise Doll' by Hiawyn Oram, illustrated by Ruth Brown. In this version, Vasilisa is called 'Too Nice' who is sent to see Baba Yaga by two other children, 'Very-Horrid' and 'Horrid'. Taking guidance from the doll her mother gave her before she died, Vasilisa survives her encounter with Baba Yaga, earning a gift which helps her get rid of the nasty children for good. The illustrations are dark and detailed, a powerful backdrop to the text. The similarities and difference with this tale and Perrault's version would make interesting discussions.

This version could also be compared to Geraldine McCaughrean's version of the story, 'Grandma Chickenlegs' (illustrated by Moira Kemp). Beautifully written, in this version it is the step mother who sends Tatia to visit Baba Yaga in her house on chicken legs with its fence of bones topped with sculls. Brilliantly told in Geraldine McCaughrean's rich, lyrical style, Moira Kemp's illustrations are lighter, but no less scary in places. 

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Cinderella in any of its forms is a rags to riches tale with the moral of good overcoming evil. With children from so many cultural backgrounds in schools, it is a story whose universal nature shows that people all over the world share the common ground of story telling which reflects elements of the land and culture it is set in. Whether the story of Settareh (Persia), Tattercoats (England), Maha (Iraqi), Pear Blossom (Korea), Aschengrittle (Germany) or Cinderella, it is still a tale to be enjoyed.

A book list of Cinderella stories from around the world will soon be available in the Members' Section of the website.