Well, I have 4 more picture books to read in 2010, two illustrated by Ruth Heller and two both written & illustrated by her. Only at the end, after Id read the book, did I find out that this is one of the oldest Cinderella stories, first recorded in the first century B.C. by the Roman historian Strabo.
Since this version of Cinderella is told from an Egyptian perspective, teachers could use that as an opportunity to create an interdisciplinary unit on Egypt. This lesson could begin with the teacher reading the classic Disney version of Cinderella to students. Then, this Egyptian version can be read to them, and students can compare and contrast the two, and discuss how the story changes when it takes place somewhere else. There are at least 10 other versions (including Korean, Native American, and Italian) of Cinderella, each from different countries, so students could get into groups of 3-4, according to which version they want to choose, and then create a summary and analysis of the version they got. If nothing else, teachers should at least read this story with the intention of discussing the difference between a folktale and realistic fiction.
I don't think the book should be altogether avoided; after all, the Pharoah who she marries is also Egyptian.
As an adult reader, I found myself skeptically raising my eyebrows when the Pharaoh did indeed choose to marry a former slave, the one white girl present in the whole book. But the biggest surprise was the author's note at the back, stating that this story has at least some basis in historical fact- the Pharaoh Amasis (Dynasty XXVI, 570-526 BCE) did indeed marry a Greek slave named Rhodopis.
For example, there is a slipper and instead of a fairy, there is a falcon who helps Rhodopis. This story can inspire students to create their own versions of classic tales and bring in a multicultural aspect to it. This story would be engaging to include in a fairy tale unit for students to compare and contrast different versions. It would also be a great story to use when learning about Egyptian tales in a social studies unit about Egypt.
This is a great book to read aloud to a classroom of Kindergarten up to 4th grade. This book has great potential for much discussion and many new vocabulary words for grades 2-4.
When her master saw her dancing, he had dainty red slippers made just for Rhodopis. The girls went to see the Pharaoh who was holding court but they told Rhodopis out of spite she must stay behind. Amasis searched long and hard for the owner of the slipper, Kipa, one of the other girls kept her mouth shut knowing it was Rhodopis. Eventually Rhodopis tries on the slipper and despite pleas from Kipa and the others Amasis declares She is the most Egyptian of all, the Pharaoh declare.
Rhodopis is the Egyptian Cinderella in this text who, as a child, was stolen by pirates. Rhodopis is surrounded by servant girls who look and act different from her. While the servant girls tease Rhodopis and bark orders at her, her master believes she is different.