Butterfly Wings

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THE PERSIAN CINDERELLA – Traditional Literature October 1, 2008

Filed under: Traditional — anet smith @ 9:18 am


Climo, Shirley. The Persian Cinderella.  Ill. by Robert Florczak. New York: Harper Collins, 1999.  ISBN: 0060267658



A beautiful maiden, Settareh, uses the money her father gave her for a snack, to help an old lady, and then buys a small blue jug.  She doesn’t have enough to buy cloth for new clothes for Prince Mehrdad’s New Year’s celebration, so she stays home so her family won’t be disgraced.  However, she discovers her little blue jug is magic.  Its inhabitant, a pari, outfits Settareh in a dark red silk dress, beautiful jewelry, and two diamond anklets.  She attends the celebration, but leaves behind one of the anklets.  The prince’s mother finds Settareh and introduces her to the prince.  However, on the day of the wedding, Settareh’s jealous stepsisters use magical hairpins (obtained from the pari) to arrange Settareh’s hair and she turns into a turtledove.  Prince Mehrdad’s love remains and he breaks the spell. Settareh’s happiness begins.



This is a familiar tale, but offers an enchanting setting of long ago Persia and has the twist of Settareh turning into a turtledove.  There are many cultural details:  although the prince glimpses Settareh at the celebration, they don’t actually meet; Settareh celebrates with the other women; and it is the Queen, not the Prince who searches for the owner of the left behind anklet.  One explanation though, “…covered her head with a cloak so that no stranger might look on her face” is contradicted by a later picture when Settareh is with a peddler.


Settareh is instantly likable.  She is kind to those in need and gentle with nature.   Her step-mother is mentioned only once, but does not play a role in the tale.  Several other characters provide interaction: the stepsisters, the peddlers, and the pari.  There are musicians and magicians at the New Year’s celebration.


Climo does a nice job of expressing the Prince’s anguish, “plucking hairs from his beard”, and “shut himself within his royal chamber” and Florzak’s illustration shows the Prince solemn with the turtledove.  On the very next page, the joy is evident in text and picture.


The illustrations in The Persian Cinderella are done in “water-based markers, colored pencil, body color, and ink on brownline paper” (as explained in the artist’s note).  These were excellent choices as the lifelike drawings are colorful and appear to “pop” on the pages.  Text pages are outlined in exquisite Persian rugs.  The whole book is definitely appealing to the eye!



KIRKUS REVIEW: “A luminescent interpretation of an ancient Persian tale is Climo’s latest entry to her multicultural collection of Cinderella tales.”


BOOKLIST: “The people look as lifelike as photographs, each face unique. A fine addition for any folktale collection.”



*’01-’02 TX Bluebonnet Award Master List

*Other Cinderella tales by Climo

The Korean Cinderella

The Irish Cinderlad

The Egyptian Cinderella

*Study ancient Persia and modern Iran.

*Present other folklore from Iran.


SCHOOLYARD RHYMES – Traditional Literature

Filed under: Traditional — anet smith @ 8:11 am


Sierra, Judy. Schoolyard Rhymes: Kids’ Own Rhymes for Rope-Skipping, Hand Clapping, Ball Bouncing, and Just Plain Fun. Ill. by Melissa Sweet.  New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005.  ISBN:  0375925163.




This is a collection of rhymes as the title indicates, for the playground.  They’re perfect for playing and many are fun and silly.  Some of the accompanying illustrations are as silly as the poems! Many may be familiar some may not.  “Columbus went to C-C-C-/To see what he could C-C-C”, Teddy bear, teddy bear, turn around”, “Cinderella/Dressed in yella”, “Nobody likes me, everybody hates me/Guess I’ll eat some worms” and “I’m rubber, you’re glue” are some of the ones you may have heard.  “Coca-Cola went to town/Diet Pepsi knocked him down” perhaps may be new to you.  The book also contains an introduction from Judy Sierra.




Fun is chanted all throughout this book!  The illustrations add a wonderful dimension as they are colorful and merry.  Often the children and animals have a jump rope made out of verse or the chant is included as part of the illustration (i.e. on the bubbles of children chewing gum in class).  I love the expression of the little boy who just burped and the not liked girl eating a worm!  The very long arms of Old Man Moses and long legs of the bow-legged cowboy are very fun.  I could go on and on.


Adults may frown at the playground taunts, but they are mostly harmless.  “Liar, liar, pants on fire/Nose as long as a telephone wire” has been used for years to express a point. 


The introduction included by Sierra is helpful.  She notes that the poems have been collected for around 150 years and that playground rhymes are similar in English-speaking countries.  She also speaks of the bond between generations that traditional poems create. 


I hope all of the silly verse is still used often in playgrounds across the United States.  I wonder if some of them are being pushed aside by culture and entertainment that is causing children to grow up more quickly than their parents and grandparents.  I remember saying some of the rhymes to my children when they were preschoolers, but they have a place for older children too.  Maybe they just need to be reintroduced.




BOOKLIST: “A great choice for back-to-school displays.”


SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL: “The rhythms and nonsense rhymes are irresistible, compelling memorization and participation in the fun.”



*As BOOKLIST suggested, use this with a back-to-school display.

*I absolutely love using books like this to read to students at the end of the day or after recess.  They are just plain fun and the nonsense is a nice diversion sometimes.

*Teach rhymes from the book for students to use if your school has a jump-rope club or participates in the “Jump for Heart” fundraiser.

*Have each student take the book home (one each night) to read several rhymes with a parent or guardian.  Have the adult tell their child if they remember any of the rhymes from childhood and how some of the lines may have been different.  Have each student complete a written response and compile a book of the responses.


THE GINGERBREAD MAN- Traditional Literature September 30, 2008

Filed under: Traditional — anet smith @ 10:38 pm


Kimmel, Eric A. The Gingerbread Man. Ill. by Megan Lloyd. New York: Holiday House, 1993.  ISBN: 0823408248



A decorated gingerbread man surprises his creators, an old woman and old man, and leaps off the table, goes out the door and down the road.  He has the same chorus for them as he does for the animals he runs past, “I’ll run and run as fast as I can.  You can’t catch me.  I’m the gingerbread man!” Unfortunately, the gingerbread man meets a sly fox at the river’s edge and accepts his help in crossing to safety.  Perhaps he would have fared better with the horse, cow, dog, sow, old woman, and old man!



The gingerbread man is a lively character and each page of this book has quick action.  The gingerbread man is always running with someone in hot pursuit!  The lovely watercolor illustrations by Megan Lloyd really add to the feeling of action.  The old man can be seen lying on his belly outside his back farmhouse door.  You can almost feel that the gingerbread man has just escaped the man’s grasp. 


The retelling and illustrations with the fox also add to the action.  As the gingerbread man moves up higher and higher on the fox to avoid getting wet, the story moves along quite quickly.  Thankfully for young children, this variant of a traditional tale does not end on a sad note because the gingerbread man will be back when someone bakes gingerbread!


The simple and large illustrations make this an excellent read-aloud book.  The illustrations, likeable characters, and repetitive sing-song chorus will delight listeners hearing this story for the first time or twentieth time.  I read this book to my nine year old son and he laughed out loud!



SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL: “Lloyd’s illustrations work in tandem with the text to create verve and motion while maintaining a ‘fresh-from-the-oven’ appeal.”


BOOKLIST:  “A compact text and suitably large pictures make this just right for groups.”



*Also retold by Kimmel

Anansi and the Moss-Covered Rock. ISBN: 9780823407989.

Anansi and the Talking Melon. ISBN: 9780823411672.

Seven at One Blow:  A Tale from the Brothers Grimm. ISBN: 9780823413836.

*A gingerbread man version:

The Gingerbread Cowboy by Janet Squires.  Illustrated by Holly Berry.  ISBN: 9780060778644

*Make some gingerbread cookies as a class or if this is not possible have individually wrapped store bought gingerbread as a snack.

*Use book to discuss parts of a story:  characters, plot, setting, and theme.  Also make predictions.

*Take the characters the gingerbread man ran from and have students sequence them in the order they appeared in the story.

*You could also sequence characters from The Enormous Turnip by Alexi Tolstoy. ISBN: 978-0152048433.