Adelita: A Mexican Cinderella Story


Hace mucho tiempo-a long time ago-there lived a beautiful young woman named Adelita. So begins the age-old tale of a kind-hearted 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 ...

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Hace mucho tiempo-a long time ago-there lived a beautiful young woman named Adelita. So begins the age-old tale of a kind-hearted 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.

After the death of her mother and father, Adelita is badly mistreated by her stepmother and stepsisters until she finds her own true love at a grand fiesta.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Cinderella fans will find much to like in dePaola's original twist, infused with Mexican warmth and color. (Publishers Weekly)

A true tour de force. (School Library Journal)

Publishers Weekly
There's no pumpkin coach or glass slipper in sight, but Cinderella fans will find much to like in dePaola's (26 Fairmount Avenue) original twist, infused with Mexican warmth and color. Following her father's sudden death, Adelita is left to suffer the abuse of her cruel stepmother and stepsisters. Adelita's kindly nanny/housekeeper takes on the role of fairy godmother, making certain that the girl has something to wear to the party thrown by a local wealthy family to honor their (eligible bachelor) son, Javier. Adelita makes an unforgettable impression at the gala, draped in a dramatic red shawl that was her mother's; Adelita uses it to signal to Javier when he comes looking for her the next day. DePaola tweaks just enough details to make his version fresh; his liberal use of Spanish phrases (translated within the text) and cultural details enlighten as they enliven. He humorously winks at readers, too, by having his characters refer to the classic story ("All Do$a Micaela and her two daughters could talk about was `the mysterious Cenicienta' [Cinderella] who had appeared and then disappeared from the fiesta, just like the fairy tale"). His vibrant acrylics incorporate folk art motifs as well as rustic domestic items. The jazzy design features mosaic-like tile backgrounds of varying shades that frame smaller panels and portraits throughout. Ages 5-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-In this folktale variant, lovely Adelita gains a family when her father remarries. Following the traditional story line, Dona Micaela and her daughters, Valentina and Dulce, are utterly impossible, but all is well as long as Adelita's father is alive. However, when he dies, she is relegated to helping in the kitchen. Eventually, Dona Micaela evicts old Esperanza, and her stepdaughter is left to do all the work. On the night of the fiesta at the Gordillos' hacienda, it is Esperanza who takes the fairy godmother role, sends Adelita to the party, and sees to it that young Javier is smitten. True to form, he locates the young woman when she flees, and they marry. The prose is straightforward and crisp, though the habit of including a Spanish phrase that is translated immediately afterward (e.g., "Soy yo-only me-" or "-mi peque-ita-my little one-") interrupts the narrative flow. However, this is a minor quibble given the beauty of dePaola's signature artwork. Making perfect use of clear, warm hues, the full-color acrylic illustrations are a feast for the eye. Depth and brilliance in composition combine with economy of line and form to create a true tour de force. Use this with either Robert D. San Souci's Little Gold Star (HarperCollins, 2000) or Joe Hayes's Little Gold Star/Estrellita de oro (Cinco Puntos, 2000) for different looks at "Cinderella" through Mexican eyes.-Ann Welton, Grant Elementary School, Tacoma, WA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Placing this Cinderella variation in upper-class Mexico in the last century, dePaola (A New Barker in the House, p. 409, etc.) has framed the story in a more realistic vein than usual. There are no magical elements, yet the prolific author-illustrator weaves together a very satisfying tale of the beautiful and good Adelita and her sweet young man, Javier, a childhood friend. The fairy godmother is a faithful servant who has always worked for the Mercado family. The dress belonged to Adelita's mother and instead of the glass slipper, Adelita uses her beautiful rebozo, a shawl covered in birds and flowers, to lead her rich young gentleman back to her after she leaves the fiesta early. The human relationships remain the same: the evil stepmother and the selfish stepsisters are depicted here in the usual way, yet kindly Adelita invites them all to her wedding at the end. Esperanza, the servant who quietly manages to bring an end to Adelita's sufferings, brings a cart to take her to the hacienda, not a coach made out of a pumpkin. Spanish phrases and their translations are used throughout the text and a list providing pronunciations is given at the end. The acrylic paintings are handsome and dignified, with borders of Mexican tile and many archways giving a graceful unity to dePaola's signature characters. The rich colors change in tone as sad times, mourning, and great happiness are all depicted in different double-page spreads. The endpapers explode with the lively pattern of the all-important rebozo. Decorative objects, including religious items, pottery, Mexican crafts, and kitchenware give the illustrations an authentic touch. Heartwarming, but not sappy, this version will lead youngwriters off in many directions as they write their own Cinderella tales in locations of their own choosing. An enjoyable read-aloud, this is a fine addition to the author's growing collection of stories set in Mexico. (Picture book. 6-10)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780142401873
  • Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
  • Publication date: 8/5/2004
  • Language: Spanish
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 87,772
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: AD660L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 9.05 (w) x 11.05 (h) x 0.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Tomie dePaola
Tomie dePaola
Best known for his award-winning picture book Strega Nona and for the 26 Fairmount Avenue series of chapter books, Tomie dePaola is one of the most prolific -- and beloved -- author/illustrators in the field of children's literature.


Born in 1934 into a large extended Irish/Italian family, Tomie dePaola received his art education at Brooklyn's Pratt Institute and the California College of Arts & Crafts. Although he always wanted to create children's books, he spent several years applying his talents to the fields of education, theater, and graphic design. In the mid-1960s, he received his first commission to illustrate a children's science book. A year later, he published his first original picture book, The Wonderful Dragon of Timlin. Today, he is one of the most prolific -- and beloved -- author/illustrators in children's literature.

In addition to illustrating stories by other writers, DePaola has created artwork for collections of poetry, nursery rhymes, holiday traditions, and folk and religious tales. But, he is most famous for books of his own creation, especially Strega Nona ("Grandma Witch"), the beloved story of an old woman who uses her magical powers to help the people of her small Italian village. Written in 1975, this Caldecott Honor winner is still delighting children today.

DePaola admits that there are strong autobiographical elements in many of his books (Nana Upstairs & Nana Downstairs, The Art Lesson, Stagestruck), but nowhere is this more evident than in 26 Fairmount Avenue, a series of charming chapter books based on his Connecticut childhood. Taking its name from the address of his family home, the series captures the experiences and emotions of a young boy growing up in the late 1930s and early '40s in the shadow of World War II. The first book in the series received a 1999 Newbery Honor Award.

DePaola and his work have been recognized with many honors, including the Smithsonian Medal, the Kerlan Award for "singular attainment in children's literature," the Catholic Library Association's Regina Medal, and several awards from the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. In 1999, the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts bestowed on dePaola the Lotte Jacobi Living Treasure Award for the body of his work.

Good To Know

  • Tomie dePaola's name is pronounced Tommy de POW-la.

  • Between college and graduate school, dePaola spent a short time in a Benedictine monastery before determining that religious life was not for him.

  • Using a combination of watercolor, tempera, and acrylic, dePaola's artistic style is best described as folk-traditional.

  • DePaola's favorite painters and strongest artistic influences are Matisse, Giotto, and Ben Shahn.
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    Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
    • Anonymous

      Posted February 6, 2007

      a wonderful cultural version

      i love tomie de paola's books and this is no exception. he does a wonderful job of incorporating spanish vocabulary into the tale & even includes a glossary of terms w/ pronunciation at the end of the book. my kids and i both enjoy this story. we recently used it as part of a 'cinderella tales from around the world' study unit.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted December 15, 2009

      No text was provided for this review.

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