Shirley Climo's love of folklore began in her childhood and has provided the background for many of her children's books, such as The Korean Cinderella, Magic & Mischief: Tales from Cornwall, A Treasury of Princesses: Princess Tales from Around the World, A Treasury of Mermaids: Mermaid Tales from Around the World, and Someone Saw a Spider: Spider Facts and Folktales, an NCTE Teacher's Choice and Library of Congress Best Children's Book that was originally inspired by her research for Cobweb Christmas. Mrs. Climo and her husband live in Los Altos, California.
The setting may be exotic and the glass slippers may have been replaced by leather ones with toes of rose-red gold, but this is a story no child could fail to recognize. Climo's intriguing variation on the Cinderella tale is based on a combination of fact (there was indeed a Greek slave girl named Rhodopis who married the Pharaoh Amasis), and fable--in this case, Egyptian. A trio of uppity servant girls assume the roles of the wicked stepsisters, a kindly master serves as the fairy godmother (to provide the slippers) and a handsome pharoah steps in as Prince Charming. The foreign locale comes complete with lotus flowers, a hippo, a great falcon (symbol of the Egyptian sky god Horus) and, of course, the River Nile. Climo hits just the right note in her imaginative retelling of the fairy tale. The text is incorporated in the design of Heller's stylized illustrations with their appropriately lush colors. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)
K-Gr 3-- A stunning combination of fluent prose and exquisitely wrought illustrations. Climo has woven this ancient tale, a mixture of fact and myth, with clarity and eloquence. The beauty of the language is set off to perfection by Heller's arresting full-color illustrations. The story of Rhodopis, a Greek slave girl in ancient Egypt, is an interesting variant of the traditional Cinderella legend. Because of her rosy complexion and fair hair, Rhodopis is scorned and teased by the Egyptian servant girls who work for her kind but disinterested master. Rhodopis' happy fate, becoming the wife of Pharaoh Amasis (570-526 ..), is accomplished through the intercession of the great falcon, symbol of the god Horus. When the majestic bird deposits one of Rhodopis' rosy-gold slippers, a gift from her master, in the lap of the Pharaoh, he determines this to be a signal from the gods to marry the maiden whose foot it fits. Powerful visual presentations reminiscent of the figures on Egyptian frieze paintings and carvings, colorful birds and animals that pulse with life, and information about Egyptian mythology and civilization are subtly interwoven into the traditional folktale. This will certainly be a winner for story hours, as well as a useful resource for the study of Cinderella through the ages and throughout the world. --Martha Rosen, Edgewood Sch . , Scarsdale, NY