Hace mucho tiempo—a long time ago—there lived a beautiful young woman named Adelita. So begins the age-old tale of a kindhearted young woman, her jealous stepmother, two hateful stepsisters, and a young man in search of a wife. The young man, Javier, falls madly in love with beautiful Adelita, but she disappears from his fiesta at midnight, leaving him with only one clue to her hidden identity: a beautiful rebozo—shawl. With the rebozo in place of a glass slipper, this favorite fairy tale takes a delightful twist. Tomie dePaola’s exquisite paintings, filled with the folk art of Mexico, make this a Cinderella story like no other.
I am a sucker for any book by Tomie de Paola, and for fractured fairy tales so this book has double appeal for me. I love de Paola’s richly colored illustrations, love the humor he gets into his drawings, especially the glaring wicked stepsisters and imperious stepmother. I love the way he incorporates Mexican architecture and folk art into the illustrations, strengthening the sense of place that is the setting for the story.
Although, in theory, I appreciate the bilingual aspects of this book, I found the Spanish a little distracting. The aspect of the book that I really love is that the part of the fairy godmother is played by Adelita’s long-time nanny and that Adelita is able to speak and act for her self to a greater degree that one typically sees in a Cinderella story.
Tomie dePaola’s illustration are as beautiful as this Mexican Cindrella story is.
Tomie dePaola is one of the most popular children’s book authors and illustrators of our time and the winner of the 2011 Children’s Literature Legacy Award for “significant and lasting contribution to children’s literature,” among other lifetime achievement awards. A Newbery Honor winner, he has written and illustrated a number of books, including Caldecott Honor book Strega Nona and its companions, as well as Oliver Button Is a Sissy; The Legend of Old Befana; The Clown of God; Michael Bird-Boy; Andy, That’s My Name; and Quiet. A native of Connecticut, Mr. dePaola studied at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York, and now lives in New London, New Hampshire.