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The Egyptian Cinderella by Shirley Climo
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The Egyptian Cinderella (edition 1992)

by Shirley Climo, Ruth Heller (Illustrator)

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488None20,885 (4.18)7
Member:ShannaThomp08
Title:The Egyptian Cinderella
Authors:Shirley Climo
Other authors:Ruth Heller (Illustrator)
Info:HarperCollins (1992), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 32 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***1/2
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The Egyptian Cinderella by Shirley Climo

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» See also 7 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 35 (next | show all)
This take on the Cinderella story is one of the oldest, dating back to the first century B.C. Rhodopis is stolen from Greece and sold as a slave to an Egyptian. Mistreated by her owner’s servants, the will of the God Horus changes Rhodopis fate. The story, retold by Shirley Climo, mixes fact and fiction. ( )
  AleciaDesselle | Feb 21, 2014 |
“The Egyptian Cinderella” is one of the world’s oldest Cinderella stories. It tells the tale of a young Greek slave who works in Egypt, however is noticed by her master for her amazing dancing skills. It is a beautiful and incredibly interesting story. It is important for children to be exposed to books like these that put a cultural twist on common folk tales. It was interesting to read about the Egyptian culture. This book is also partially fact, as well as fable. It would be fascinating to see a child compare this book to the traditional Cinderella. A teacher could ask them to point out the similarities and differences between them, while also asking questions about the Egyptian culture that they can glean from this book. ( )
  alines1 | Nov 13, 2013 |
I think that this is a great multicultural book! I love how there is a twist on the traditional Cinderella story and that the book is about an "Egyptian Cinderella." I really liked the illustrations in this book. They were very colorful and detailed, which I think aided in emphasizing the fact that Egyptians are fancy and that Egypt is a beautiful place. I think that the colorful and detailed illustrations also emphasize the central message, which is that the Egyptian Cinderella was beautiful and was the representation and model of what an Egyptian of great character was. I also liked the language in the book. The author's use of similies was very effective in characterizing the Egyptian Cinderella. For example, on one page, the Egyptian Cinderella is described as, "Her eyes are as green as the Nile, her hair as feathery as papyrus, and her skin the pink of a lotus flower." ( )
  abreck2 | Oct 29, 2013 |
The story of Rhodopis - a young Greek girl captured by pirates and sold into slavery in Egypt, only to go on to become Pharaoh Amasis' queen - is the earliest known example of the "Cinderella," or persecuted-heroine-type tale (type #510A in the Aarne-Thompson Folklore Classification system), having first been recorded in the work of the Greek geographer Strabo some time in the late first century BCE, or early first century CE. Another retelling can be found in the work of Roman author Aelian (ca. 175–235 CE). The fairy-tale itself is (of course) fictional, although the story is based upon the life of an actual historical figure.

In addition to offering an interesting counterpart to the more well-known (and more contemporary) French version, which has given its name to the tale-type - like Cinderella, this story too includes a lost slipper, used by the pharaoh to find his ideal mate, as well as some magical intervention on the part of the god Horus and his falcon (as opposed to a fairy god-mother) - The Egyptian Cinderella also provides a fascinating snapshot of the world of classical antiquity, and highlights some of the differences between that world and our own. To wit: it demonstrates how the institution of slavery, in the ancient world, was far different from its modern counterpart; and points to the relatively recent origin of our own concerns with, and ideas of, race.

The idea that some peoples were innately more fit for servitude and enslavement goes back, not to the ancient world, but to the beginnings of the trans-Atlantic slave-trade - it was a philosophy dreamt up to justify that most unjustifiable and barbaric of practices. In the world of the ancient Mediterranean, by contrast, slavery was largely situational - one could become a slave through defeat in warfare, through capture by pirates, and (in some cultures) through debt - and was not necessarily a permanent, multi-generational condition. In the ancient world, a slave could and did marry the Pharaoh. In the same vein, while prejudice was just as present amongst the ancients, as amongst ourselves - witness the way in which Rhodopis is ridiculed by the Egyptian servant-girls with whom she works, simply because her appearance is different from their own - it did not have the same directed quality as our own prejudice, as it did not draw from the same kind of specifically racial animus.

I would imagine that these and other differences would make The Egyptian Cinderella - in addition to being an entertaining tale - an excellent book for study with younger readers, affording thoughtful teachers an excellent vehicle for exploring the world of antiquity, and contrasting it to our own. Given that this is so, I am particularly bemused to note the accusations of racism against the book on various sites online. Some reviewers, appearing not to have read the book at all, wonder why an "Egyptian" Cinderella would be light-skinned and green-eyed (perhaps because she isn't Egyptian...?); while others object to the idea that the villains of the piece (such as they are) are darker-skinned than the heroine.

These negative reviews tend to point out two rather disturbing realities: first, that there is a great deal of ignorance about the ancient world abroad in our culture; and second, that it is apparently taboo to depict a darker-skinned person as a villain, even if this may reflect reality. I can't say I find either of these things particularly admirable (quite the reverse, actually), although the icing on the cake comes with the knowledge that an explicitly Afrocentric retelling of this tale (presumably including an Egyptian Rhodopis?), was published a number of years after Climo's telling. I can only assume that the author of The Egyptian Cinderella and Other Egyptian Tales does not see the absurdity of taking a tale in which the heroine's outsider status is central to any understanding of meaning, and making her an "insider" instead. It's as if a group of far-right, modern-day Israelis, believing that the Moabites were the ancestors of their present-day enemies, the Arabs, decided "To hell with the Book of Ruth! We don't want a Moabitess in our sacred stories - we'll make her an Israelite instead!" It would be laughable, if it weren't so sad.

Leaving aside these issues of identity politics, and the racism of extreme (read: essentialist) Afrocentrism, The Egyptian Cinderella is just an engaging story, one I would recommend to readers interested in the Cinderella tale-type specifically, to general fairy-tale fans, and to anyone - teachers, librarians, parents - interested in sparking a truly thoughtful discussion of the ancient world with the children in their care. ( )
1 vote AbigailAdams26 | Apr 25, 2013 |
I liked this version because her and her evil sisters were slaves to this man. She was the most humble so he gave her nice shoes. The eagle takes her shoe and brings it to the prince. Instead of trying on the shoe at the end, she shows him the other match and they marry. ( )
  ArielDean | Apr 5, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Shirley Climoprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Heller, RuthIllustratormain authorall editionsconfirmed
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For my grandchildren S.C.
To Cinderella's loving master R.H.
First words
Long ago, in the land of Egypt, where the green Nile River widens to meet the blue sea, there lived a maiden called Rhodopis.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
A lowly slave girl named Rhodopis marries the Pharaoh in this ancient tale from the land of the pyramids.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0064432793, Paperback)

Poor Rhodopis! She has nothing - no mother or father, and no friends. She is a slave, from the far-off country of Greece. Only the beautiful rose-red slippers her master gives her can make Rhodopis smile. So when a falcon swoops down and snatches one of the slippers away, Rhodipis is heartbroken. For how is she to know that the slipper will land in the lap of the great Pharoah himself? And who would ever guess that the Pharoah has promised to find the slipper's owner and make her queen of all Egypt?

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:32:45 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

In this version of Cinderella set in Egypt in the sixth century B.C., Rhodopes, a slave girl, eventually comes to be chosen by the Pharaoh to be his queen.

(summary from another edition)

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