Hay Festival: One Story, Many Voices

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The 'Cinderella' story, and its many forms around the world, has always fascinated me. That this 'rags to riches' tale appears in so many cultures shows how similar we are as humans- how we want the happy ending for the downtrodden and for the 'baddies' to have their comeuppance!

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Beverley Naidoo has taken a 2,000 year old Greek version of this story to create her new book, 'Cinderella of the Nile.' and on Wednesday, I went to her Hay event about it. Sharing pictures from her childhood, Beverley showed us her copy of the 'Blue Fairy Book' which had been sent from Europe to the bookshop in South Africa where someone had bought it for her. Although she couldn't remember who had given it to her, she still had her copy, carefully wrapped in some embroidery her mother had started many years ago.

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Her childhood version of Cinderella was the Perrault version which many of us recognise- although many know a watered down form where the ugly sisters don't chop off sections of their feet to try to make the slipper fit! Maintaining the European images of setting and character for the story, the illustrations were of a Cinderella dressed in ornate gowns, running from a castle 'fit for a princess'- nothing like the South Africa of Beverley's childhood!

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The collaboration for her version of this ancient tale came about through Tiny Owl, an independent publishing company who believe that 'stories act as bridges- providing paths to new experiences whilst connecting us to here and there.' and I was delighted to discover that this is the first in a series of books that will introduce readers to different versions of traditional tales from a range of cultures, using a variety of illustrators and authors.

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Beverley part told, part read her story to the audience, using a range of props whilst Marjan Vafaeian's vibrant illustrations were shown on the screen overhead. Her warmth and delight in story telling was evident as she engaged with the audience throughout, adding details to her tale.

It was a lovely session with a fabulous story teller!

Cinderella of the Nile    Beverley Naidoo, illustrated by Marjan Vafaeian

Tiny Owl    ISBN: 978-1910328293