Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Yeh-Shen: A Cinderella Story from China

A. Title: Yeh-Shen: A Cinderella Story from China

B. Author: Ai-Ling Louie

C. Illustrator: Ed Young

D. Publisher: Philomel Books, a division of The Putnam
Publishing Group

E. Genre: Folktale/Fairytale


F. Reading Level: 2-3

G. Summary: Yeh-Shen: A Cinderella Story from China has the same illustrator as the author/illustrator of Lon Po Po: A Red Riding Hood Story from China. The illustrations in Yeh-Shen are done in the same style and media as Lon Po Po: oil pastels and water color with a panel layout. In Yeh-Shen, a long time ago, a cave chief had two wives, which was the custom, and each produced a daughter. Unfortunately the chief and one of the wives died leaving the lone wife to raise both daughters. The stepmother was a very angry, bitter woman because her daughter was not very beautiful, especially in comparison her step-daughter Yeh-Shen. Yeh-Shen was forced to do all of the hard labor chores and had no friends. One day Yeh-Shen caught a small fish to keep in her pond, and every day she would save some of whatever small ration of food her stepmother would give her to give to her fish. The fish grew massive in size, and when the stepmother found out that Yeh-Shen had a secret friend she became furious, caught the fish, killed it, and cooked it for dinner. Yeh-Shen was so devistated when she found her only friend missing that she cried over the pond. Suddenly a old man appeared and told her not to cry; the old man told Yeh-Shen that her fish was a magic fish, and to ask the fish bones for favors but to be very careful with them. Everyday Yeh-Shen would ask the fish bones for enough food to live on, until one day she asked the fish for a gown suitable enough to go to the village feast. This feast is where all of the men and women come together to try and find someone to marry, and Yeh-Shen desperately wanted to go. The fish gave her a gorgeous dress, headdress, and slippers and told her to be very careful with the slippers. Yeh-Shen went to the feast and everyone talked about her beauty; then just before anyone realized who she was she ran away, losing a slipper in the process. When she got home, the fish no longer talked to her and she was once again wearing rags. The slipper ended up in the hands of a prince who was determined to find the owner of the tiny, fragile slipper. Once he found Yeh-Shen he knew that he had found his one true love.

H. Response: Right away I could tell the illustrations in Yeh-Shen were done by an illustrator I had seen before, and that the illustrations were done in the same kind of layout/spread, panel layout. The story itself was a lot of fun to read, and right from the beginning I could see classroom connections with the Cinderella story and with the time the story took place, before the Ch'in and Han dynasties. I really enjoyed this version of Cinderella, but I have to admit that I like the Chinese Red Riding Hood tale, Lon Po Po, better than Yeh-Shen. I also think I like the Irish tale of Cinderella better than the Chinese because in Yeh-Shen the Prince never sees her before searching for her. The Prince come into possession of her gorgeous slipper and wants to find its owner; only after finding out that the slipper belongs to Yeh-Shen does he fall in love with her. Unlike the Disney and Irish versions of Cinderella where the prince falls in love with her at first site and then has to find her by the slipper she left behind. The similarities between the Irish Cinderella and the Chinese Cinderella include a widower parent, each Cinderella has a man or woman help them by giving them the right clothes to wear to the occasion, both Cinderellas being forced to do chores and stay in because of their beauty, happy endings, and the ugly, mean stepsister(s) and stepmother paid for the way they treated the poor Cinderella-like characters. Some of the differences between Yeh-Shen and Fair, Brown & Trembling were the number of stepsisters, one widow was a man and the other a woman, one 'fairy godmother,' AKA the person who helped the main characters get their dresses, that was a woman and one was an old man, one had a church and one had a feast, one had a Prince searching for the owner of a shoe and one had the prince searching for Cinderella herself.

I. Teaching Ideas: Just like in the post below, there a thousands of option for ideas, lesson plans, or units on multicultural Cinderella stories. Teachnet.com has a whole list of ideas for incorporating fairytales and the Cinderella story into multiple subjects. The ideas on this page are mostly for higher grade levels, including upper middle school and high schools levels. Some ideas include writing a short paragraph on a fairytale character (like Cinderella) in the first person perspective, dramatize by having students dress up like a character and read aloud, introduce inventors/explorers who had ideas most people originally thought were only imagination, include geography by discussing different castles around the world and where they're located, and the list goes on to include ideas for math, art, spelling, and Cinderella specific lesson ideas.

1 comment:

manuel said...

please mr. or ms. can you do it shortly.