Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Rough-Face Girl

written by Rafe Martin
illustrated by David Shannon
There are many versions of Cinderella from around the world.  This Cinderella story, The Rough – Face Girl is an Algonquin Indian version.  Just as one might expect, there are two domineering sisters who were cruel to their younger sister.  They made her sit by the fire and feed the flames.  As the branches burned and popped the embers would fall on her.  Over time her hands, arms, and face became burnt and scarred.  Her sisters would laugh at her and say, “Ha! You’re ugly, you Rough-Face Girl!”
The two are adamant that they will marry the rich, powerful, and handsome man, “Invisible Being.”  The only problem is no one can see him.  There is a father of the girls in this version who gives all he can to provide necklaces, buckskin dresses, and beaded moccasins to the girls, except for the Rough-Face Girl.  The Rough-Face Girl is given her father’s old slippers and some broken shells. In order to marry the “Invisible Being,” one would have to prove to his sister that they have seen him.  The two girls fail at their attempt.  The Rough-Face Girl, however, is able to see him in many different places.   After she bathes in the lake, magic ensues and she is transformed to the beautiful girl she had always been. 
Shannon uses framed acrylic paintings with earthly hues to reflect the mood.  On the back of the book jacket it states that Shannon frequented the Museum of the American Indian to continue his interest in Native American lore. His research is evident in the intricate details of the native dress and their tee-pees.   He has some profound illustrations as he depicts the characters in this story.  As the Rough-Face Girl is tending the fire, the girls look evil in the background as they taunt her.  On the following page the girls are beautiful as they walk proudly to meet the Invisible Being.  Shannon does a great job using the resources in the environment to illustrate this story.  He is keeping the theme between the Algonquin Indians and their love for the earth.
There is an author’s note at the beginning of the story.  According to Martin, “The Rough-Face Girl, an Algonquin Indian Cinderella, is, in its original form, actually part of a longer and more complex traditional story.”  I have tried to find evidence that this is true, but was unsuccessful. 
I appreciate the work of Martin and Shannon.   However, I don’t feel that this work compares to that of Yeh-Shen.  I was disappointed.

1 comment:

  1. I'm really amazed of how many similar Cinderella-like stories there are out there. It seems with every version the cruel acts of the sisters get worse and worse. I suppose very young children (the ones that get read these versions) are expected to understand the harshities of "family." We read these types of books to our children with a smile, but we turn around and say, "No that movie has too much violence." Funny.