Brocaded Slipper: And Other Vietnamese Talesby Lynette Dyer Vuong, Vo-Dinh Mai (Illustrator), Vo-Dinh Mai (Illustrator)
'Five enjoyable Vietnamese fairy tales reflect universal themes. The title story is a Cinderella tale; there are also versions of 'Thumbelina,' 'The Frog Prince,' and 'The Goose Girl.' The stories are often more satisfyingly complex than their Western counterparts. An excellent and unusual addition to folklore collections.' SLJ.
Author Biography: Lynette dyer Vuong lived in Vietnam for thirteen years. Mrs. Vuong lives in Humble, TX.
Vo-Dinh mai was born in Hue, the former imperial capital of Vietnam. He has illustrated numerous books for children and lives in Burkittsville, MD.
Read an Excerpt
In olden times there lived a man whose wife had died leaving him with their only child, a beautiful daughter named Tam. Some time afterwards, the man married again. His second wife was a widow who also had a daughter of her own, an ugly ungainly girl named Cam. The stepmother was a cruel woman and hated Tam for her beauty and sweet disposition. Not many years later, Tam's father also died. From that time on, she was treated little better than a servant, working long hours both in the kitchen and in the fields, as well as tending the water buffaloes and otheranimals, while Cam spent the day lazily at home with her mother. Tam did not dare to complain at this unjust treatment, so greatly did she fear her stepmother's beatings.
One morning after breakfast the stepmother called the two girls and handed each of them a basket and a pail.
"Go down to the pond and get these baskets filled by noon," she said. "The one who brings home the most fish will have a new red blouse."
Tam could hardly believe her ears. As the two girls turned to leave, she looked down at her worn pants and patched top. A new red blouse! She could scarcely remember when she had last had something new. She ran down the path, Cam ambling along behind.
As soon as they reached the water's edge, Tam set to work, damming up the channel that led from the pond to the river. Cam glanced after her with a yawn, then tossed her basket under a tree and lay down in the shade.
Tam lowered her pail into the water and began to drain the pond, dipping out bucketful after bucketful until nothing but mud oozed beneath herfeet. Now she could see the fish, their bodies flapping frantically as they burrowed into the slime.
Tam dived after them, digging for them in the soft, wet mud, tossing them one by one into her basket.
The sun was high overhead when Tam set down her basket, filled to the brim, at the side of the pond and reopened the channel. Cam stretched lazily and rose to her feet, walking down to the water's edge.
"What a messyou are!" she called as Tam glanced up at her. "You'd better wash up before we go home."
But as soon as Tam stepped down into the river, Cam hurriedly poured all her sister's fish into her own empty basket and ran off with it.
Tam raised her head and looked around for Cam, but she was already out of sight. Then her eyes lighted on her basket, lying empty on the ground. What would her stepmother say? She winced, remembering the sting of the bamboo stick on her back. She covered her face with her hands, and tears of fear and frustration slipped through her fingers.
Suddenly she felt someone touch her shoulder. Looking up, she saw a fairy standing beside her.
"Why are you crying, my child?" the fairy asked her.
Tani pointed to the basket. "My sister's stolen all my fish, and I don't dare go home empty handed."
The fairy picked up the basket and handed it to her.
"Look again. Are you sure it's empty?"
To her amazement, Tam saw a fat little fish lying at the bottom.
"This fish is worth more than all the ones you've lost," the fairy consoled her. "Take him home at once and put him in the well. He'll bring you good luck."
Before Tam could thank her, the fairy had vanished, and Tam ran home to. do as she had been instructed. After every meal Tam set aside a few grains of rice and slipped, out to the well with them. Then, making certain that no one was watching, she knelt by the side of the well and called the fish. As soon as he heard her voice, he would come to the surface and gobble up the rice that she threw to him.
As time went by, the fish grew bigger and bigger, and Tam came to love him more and more. But one day Cam noticed that Tam left a few grains of rice in her bowl. When she saw her scoop them up in her hand and slip out the door with them, Cam's curiosity was aroused. Stealthily she followed her out of the house and hid behind a tree to see what would happen.
She heard her call the fish:
Come and eat, come and eat
Little fish, pretty fish.
Good rice fine rice,
From my gold and silver dish.
Repeating the little verse to herself, Cam hurried back to the house to tell her mother
"Wasting good, rice on a fish?" the woman grunted when she heard the story "Well, let's hope it's big enough to make a meal for the two of us. "
The next morning as Tam was leaving the house to tend the, buffaloes, her stepmother stopped her.
"The grass near here is getting rather sparse," she said. "Take the buffaloes down to the bend in the river today." She handed her a square of pressed rice wrapped in banana leaves. "Here's your lunch. Be sure you get the herd back by sundown."
Shortly before noon Cam took some rice out to the well and, imitating her sister, called the fish. When it came to the surface, she speared it with a pointed stick and took it into the house for her mother to cook.
That evening, right after supper, Tam hurried out to the well. She had saved more rice than usual to make up for the noon meal, which her pet had missed. Though she called the fish again and again, there was no sign of him.
Someone was standing beside her. Looking up, she saw the fairy.
"Oh, dear fairy," she cried, tears springing, to her eyes, "my fish is gone. Do you know where he is?"The Brocaded Slipper and Other Vietnamese Tales. Copyright � by Lynette Dyer Vuong. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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