I have a niece that will be three at the end of February and, to my great delight, she enjoys books. As such, I’m always on the hunt for books for her. But, I’m not usually a fan of your typical, cookie cutter kids books. Don’t get me wrong, I love Little Golden books and the like, but sometimes, something else just stands out a bit more. One of the first books I got her, that she really seemed to enjoy, was Little Mist, the story of a baby snow leopard exploring his world for the first time. It had beautifully illustrated picture s of leopards, red pandas, and black bears. It’s a lovely unique little book.
When all of the Christmas decorations were coming down and everything being put back in its place in the living room, I ran across one of my own books that I loved, and am now looking for a copy for my niece.
The book is called The Rough-Face Girl, written by Rafe Martin and illustrated by David Shannon, whose work has appeared in The New York Times, Rolling Stone, and Time Magazine. And I can promise, there’s a reason I mention that.
Every culture has some version of the “Cinderella story.” The plot is pretty simple, and relatively predictable, but when well written, still manages to be a wonderful story. That’s what this book is. It’s an Algonquin version of the Cinderella story.
“In a village by the shores of Lake Ontario lived an invisible being. Al 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?
From Algonquin Indian folklore comes one of the most haunting, powerful versions of the Cinderella tale ever told.”
Like I said, the plot is predictable, but it is beautifully written. One of my favorite passages is this:
“And the Rough-Face Girl, looking up into the night sky, said, ‘the runner of his sled? Why, it is the Spirit Road, the Milky Way of stars that spreads across the sky.”
I just think it’s a wonderful style of writing. However, if the writing doesn’t impress, the illustrations should. This image is one that accompanies the above passage.
This one occurs as the Rough-Face Girl is walking through the forest on her way to meet the invisible being.
Overall, this is a wonderful book, probably best for ages 4+. But it’s also definitely a book that kids can love for many years, if not for the story, then for the beautiful way it’s presented.
I’m also working on a list of other books, and a couple of series, that I’ll be posting, that are for various ages, so there’s more to come!