The picture book of Prince Cinders is different again. Based on Charles Perrault's "Little Glass Slipper", it twists the story, providing the reader with a revision which qualifies as a fractured tale, rather than a parody. Prince Cinders is our hero, and in the scene shown he is not losing his glass slipper, but his trousers. The next page intoduces his three big hairy brothers, who are always teasing him about his looks, and the accompanying illustration is of their three fatuous, self-satisfied, grinning faces in close-up. True to the original's ugly sisters, all this trio of bullies ever do is live the high life, whilst poor Prince Cinders cleans and scrubs and tidies up after them. One Saturday night, a small dirty fairy falls down the chimney and promises Prince Cinders that all his wishes will come true. Prince Cinders ends up looking like a big hairy monkey, although when he looks in the mirror he views himself rather differently. The story follows Prince Cinders to the Royal Rave up, and his encounter with a pretty princess (clad in leopard-skin lycra disco wear) whom he inadvertently frightens in his monkey guise, at a bus stop. This is a fairy story.) Princess Lovelypenny determined to search far and wide to find her hero, whom she thought had frightened away the big hairy monkey. The three hairy brothers sneer as Prince Cinders tries the famous trousers on, but oh joy! Its English author Babette Cole had already written and illustrated other children's books, and continues to write a series about a "Princess Smartypants". We see Prince Cinders at the beginning looking sadly at his puny arms and comparing himself with a picture of a big, muscular bodybuilder in a magazine. But decades later, we still have an abundance of passive female characters, idiotic, saccharine and even more self-obsessedly pretty in pink, waiting to be rescued by a handsome prince (whether metaphoric or literal).
There are humorous key differences between Prince Cinders and the original story of Cinderella. After Prince Cinders is transformed into a big hairy monkey, he attends the Rock n Royal Bash and runs into a pretty princess.
Prince Cinders was an interesting story. Prince Cinders had three older brother who he looked nothing like.
And we all need more silly in our lives.
As part of that unit, Calkins has teachers read aloud a traditional version of Cinderella and then students compare it to this adaptation, noticing the differences and trying to answer the question: What changes did the author make and what might have been the author's purpose in making those changes?
Throughout the book the style of the illustration is the same, looks like some sort of watercolor, but the pictures are formatted differently on each page. What I found interesting is the little details in the pictures, for example; in one of the pictures Prince Cinders is sweeping up after his brothers mess and in the pile of mess is cigarettes and a carton that says "Nasty Cigs." Once I saw that pictures I went back through the book and noticed the cigarettes in a couple different illustrations.
Like most of the other fairy tale twist stories I have read, I really loved Prince Cinders! Since girls are the main audience for fairy tales, it is a nice change when you find one that the boys can enjoy as well.
As a children's writer, Cole created more than 150 picture books.