The Orphan: A Cinderella Story from Greece

The Orphan: A Cinderella Story from Greece

5.0 2
by Anthony Manna

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Once upon a time in Greece, fate left a young girl an orphan. Her stepmother was so hateful that she counted every drop of water the orphan drank! But with the help of Nature's blessings, the orphan was showered with gifts: brilliance from the Sun, beauty from the Moon, gracefulness from the Dawn—and even a tiny pair of blue shoes from the Sea. When the prince


Once upon a time in Greece, fate left a young girl an orphan. Her stepmother was so hateful that she counted every drop of water the orphan drank! But with the help of Nature's blessings, the orphan was showered with gifts: brilliance from the Sun, beauty from the Moon, gracefulness from the Dawn—and even a tiny pair of blue shoes from the Sea. When the prince comes to visit their village, he only has eyes for the mysterious beauty. Children will love this fanciful folk retelling of the Cinderella story, accompanied by luminous watercolor illustrations by Giselle Potter.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This retelling from the team behind Mr. Semolina-Semolinus: A Greek Folktale (1997) is close enough to the French version to satisfy young Cinderella-lovers, while sufficiently different to offer new color and interest. Cinderella's fairy godmother is replaced by Mother Nature and her many children (the Meadows give her three beautiful dresses; the Sea, tiny blue slippers). Details about Cinderella's bathwater (musk-scented), privations (her stepmother "counted every drop of water the orphan was allowed to drink"), and technique for escaping the prince's ball (she scatters gold coins to distract pursuers) establish authority, while help from Cinderella's dead mother, whose voice returns to Cinderella at crucial moments ("Go, my child, go to good,/ Don't cry and don't despair"), make the heroine's plight seem less lonely. The doll-like faces and stiff limbs of Potter's naïve-style watercolor figures suit the fairy-tale setting, and the pictures of tiny tailors and jewelers fawning before the pudgy stepsisters give the otherwise earnest story mordant humor. This Cinderella somehow seems more resourceful than her French counterpart, and her happy ending more dearly earned. Ages 4–8. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Carrie Hane Hung
The authors based their retelling of this Cinderella story based on two Greek versions, one by Daskalaski and one by Loukato. On the cataloguing in publication page, Manna and Mitakidou briefly describe their changes in their version of the story. The authors explain why they refer to Cinderella character as an orphan although her father exists. In the story, the father seems to be oblivious to the actions of his new wife and her daughters; he meets their demands for gowns and jewels to wear in order to meet and impress the prince. The orphan receives help from her mother's spirit along with Mother Nature and her children. In this story, the meeting of the prince takes place in the village church service rather than a ball. At the church service, the orphan loses her blue shoe in a honey and wax mixture at the church's doorway. The watercolor illustrations are found throughout the book. Children may compare this retelling with the versions by Daskalaski and by Loukato along with Cinderella stories from other cultures. Reviewer: Carrie Hane Hung
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3—Simple yet lyrical storytelling combined with Potter's masterful watercolors brings this tale to life. An unnamed girl has been lovingly and tenderly cared for, but "as people say in Greece," "A child becomes an orphan when she loses her mother." A cruel stepmother and spoiled stepsisters make her life a misery, until she is driven to sob out her story over her mother's grave. Her mother's voice directs her to return home to await "true fortune's blessings." The next day, Mother Nature and her children bestow gifts upon her and adorn her in new finery, and she catches the eye of the prince at the church service. The oral storytelling style uses rhetorical questions and distinctive turns of phrase: "Go, my child, go to good, with all my blessings, go!" Potter's naïve style and brilliant colors and perspective heighten the drama and emotion throughout. This well-crafted variation is a welcome addition to the scores of fine "Cinderella" tales and deepens readers' understanding of the story's timeless appeal.—Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA
Kirkus Reviews

In Greece, it is said that a girl is an orphan when she loses her mother, and that is the only word that names the protagonist in this Cinderella tale.

The cruel stepmother even counts the drops of water the orphan is permitted to drink. The orphan finds poetry and advice in her mother's voice at her grave, and Mother Nature gives her treasures, including a pair of blue shoes the color of the sea to wear on her tiny feet. When the prince comes to the village church one Sunday, the stepmother and stepsisters dress in all their finery, while the orphan is clothed in Mother Nature's gifts, with the Evening Star as a wreath on her long black hair. But the orphan must leave as soon as the church service ends. The next week, the prince has honey and wax poured on the church steps, so the orphan leaves a tiny blue shoe stuck there when she runs out. Potter's watercolors are limpid in color and fervent in line; the sweeping curve of the orphan's tresses plays as a motif through the images. Text pages are framed in grapevines, and the whole has the feel of folk painting: The Sun, Moon, Dawn and Star are instantly recognizable smiling folk-art figures. Several phrases repeat to keep the rhythm, and it ends, of course, with a wedding and a tantalizing "I was there, I should know."

There can never be too many Cinderellas—well, maybe there can, but definitely make room for this one. (Picture book/fairy tale. 5-8)

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Sold by:
Random House
File size:
10 MB
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

ANTHONY L. MANNA and SOULA MITAKIDOU's first collaboration, Mr. Semolina-Semolinus: A Greek Folktale, illustrated by Giselle Potter, was an ALA-ALSC Notable Children's Book, and a New York Public Library Best Book for Children. Anthony has taught at universities in Turkey, Greece, and the U.S. Soula grew up in Greece, and storytelling was an important part of her family's traditions. She now lives in Thessaloniki, Greece, where she teaches at Aristotle University.

GISELLE POTTER's children's books include The Boy Who Loved Words by Roni Schotter, a Parents' Choice Gold Award winner; and Kate and the Beanstalk by Mary Pope Osborne, a Publishers Weekly and School Library Journal Best Book and an ALA-ALSC Notable Children's Book. Giselle lives in New York's Hudson Valley with her husband and daughters. Visit her at

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The Orphan: A Cinderella Story from Greece 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Awesome bookbhighly recommended
grannycue More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderful Cinderella story for children of all ages to enjoy.