Cinderella is an actual slave in this illustrated Egyptian version of the story.
Born in Greece at a time when “pirates freely roamed the seas” and affectionately called Rhodopis, “rosy-cheeked,” she is pale-skinned with long, red hair and “eyes like sapphires.” One day, while herding goats, she is kidnapped by a pirate wearing what looks like a turban. She is sold on an island, where she befriends Aesop, another slave, who is depicted as a black man. Her master doesn’t like her melancholy face, so he sends her down the Nile, where she is sold again, this time to a Greek merchant named Charaxos, who treats her well—which makes his Egyptian servants, three brown-skinned women, jealous. Through her torments, Rhodopis sings the song Aesop taught her and befriends animals as a comfort. When the pharaoh, who has brown skin, hosts a feast, the Egyptian servants arrange to go. Rhodopis is washing clothes in the river when the falcon-headed god Horus picks up one of her shoes. He delivers it to the pharaoh, who takes it as a sign and sets out to find the slender-footed owner of the slipper. Iranian artist Vafaeian’s stylized illustrations successfully evoke an older, different world, with meticulously textured coloring, unusual use of size and proportion, and ancient Egyptian aesthetic. As with most fairy tales, readers may disagree over whether this version is suitable for children.
A rich addition to the global fairy-tale collection. (Fairy tale. 8-12)