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The Rough Face Girl
Children's Literature with Dr. Vardell

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My review of a Cinderella story...

Martin, Rafe. 1992. THE ROUGH FACE GIRL. Illustrated by David Shannon. G.P. Putnams Sons. ISBN: 0-399-21859-9


     THE ROUGH FACE GIRL is version of Cinderella expressing the unique culture of the Algonquin Indians. In this version the Cinderella of the story is named Rough-Face Girl. She is made to tend the fire (Cinderella was made to clean the fireplace) by her two malicious sisters (evil stepsisters), causing her skin to be scarred and her hair to become ragged. The prince is an Invisible Being (magical element) and only the woman who can see him will marry him. The two conceited sisters, admired for their beauty, walk through the village, haughtily believing that the Invisible Being will choose one of them for marriage. However, they cannot see him, lie about it, and are turned away in humiliation (justice is served to those who are evil and arrogant).


     Rough-Face Girl asks her father for buckskin to make a new dress and moccasins so that she can go and see the Invisible Being. All he can give her are his old shoes (glass slippers) that are too big for her and some broken shells. She is kind and thankful for what he shares with her (gracious and kind characteristics of Cinderella). As she walks through the village people mock and laugh at her. She is able to see the Invisible Being and answer the questions required to prove that she can see him (the glass slipper fits). When the Invisible Being meets Rough Face Girl he says, She is beautiful (prince loves her even if she is a cinder girl). She goes to wash in the lake and as she does so all the scars fade away and she becomes as beautiful physically as she is internally (underdog wins and goodness prevails). They are married and glide off together in a canoe, never to be parted.


     This story, beautifully illustrated in rich yet subdued greens, blues and browns, is a wonderful version of Cinderella.  The theme is ethical with a strong showing of good winning out over evil.  As in all versions of the story, Cinderella gets the guy and lives happily ever after.


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