From Algonquin Indian folklore comes one of the most haunting, powerful versions of the Cinderella tale ever told. In a village by the shores of Lake Ontario lived an invisible being. All the young women wanted to marry him because he was rich, powerful, and supposedly very handsome. But to marry the invisible being the women had to prove to his sister that they had seen him. And none had been able to get past the sister’s stern, all-knowing gaze. Then came the Rough-Face girl, scarred from working by the fire. Could she succeed where her beautiful, cruel sisters had failed?
In this Algonquin version of the Cinderella story, our heroine has some different qualities than we are used to seeing in similar tales. While the older wicked sisters are characteristically self-centered and preoccupied with having beautiful things to flatter their vanity, our heroine is the very picture of humility. Also, in sharp contrast with her sisters who will say and pretend anything in the interest of self-promotion, Rough-face Girl sees things as they are; she sees the many beauties in the world around her, depicted by David Shannon’s in brilliant illustrations. She sees the Invisible Being as he is, and is seen by both him and his sister, not as she appears to her sisters and the other villagers with her scarred face and hands, but as her essential self. I enjoyed the unique aspects of the Algonquin tale very much.