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Fair, Brown and Trembling: An Irish Cinderella Story

Fair, Brown and Trembling: An Irish Cinderella Story

by Daly, Jude Daly (Illustrator)

Three sisters live in a castle high among Erin's green hills. Fair and Brown go to church every Sunday wearing new dresses and leave their beautiful younger sister, Trembling, behind to cook. Then an old henwife comes to visit one Sunday morning, offering to repay Trembling for her kindness in the past. Before she knows it, Trembling is dressed in a lily-white gown


Three sisters live in a castle high among Erin's green hills. Fair and Brown go to church every Sunday wearing new dresses and leave their beautiful younger sister, Trembling, behind to cook. Then an old henwife comes to visit one Sunday morning, offering to repay Trembling for her kindness in the past. Before she knows it, Trembling is dressed in a lily-white gown and shamrock-green shoes, riding a milk-white mare to church. For the next two Sundays, Trembling stands at the church door in a new and more splendid gown -- a vision of loveliness to turn the head of every prince from far and wide . . . With her airy landscapes and funny detail work, Jude Daly has fashioned a charming variation on the old story.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Daly's (Gift of the Sun) lush, pastoral paintings add depth and charm to a Cinderella variant folktale from the Emerald Isle. In this version, Trembling is the overworked and shunned younger sibling (not stepsister) of snooty twosome Fair and Brown. And rather than sport their finery for a royal ball, the young ladies (and all the gals in the land) vie to catch a husband by looking their most stunning at Sunday Mass. Enter an old henwife in the role of fairy godmother, and Trembling is soon the gorgeous and mysterious woman standing outside the church whom everyone in the congregation longs to meet. Though anonymous Trembling flees on her brilliant steed, a smitten Prince Emania manages to snatch her tiny blue slipper as she rides away. A search for the slipper's owner ensues, but in a feisty twist, Prince Emania must also fight off competing suitors. The well-paced and pleasing blend of fresh and familiar elements will capture fairy tale fans anew. Daly provides willowy, stylized characters with distinct facial features, suggesting the work of Petra Mathers. Set in an unfettered green countryside, a playful black cat appearing on every spread, the illustrations give this oft-retold story a look both ethereal and rustic. Ages 3-7. (Sept.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Children's Literature
There was once a widower who had three daughters. The older two, Fair and Brown, would not allow the youngest, Trembling, out of the house because "she was very beautiful, and they were terrified she would marry before they did." But lo and behold, the henwife arrived one Sunday and asked Trembling why she wasn't at church. When Trembling said she had only her old clothes, the henwife put on her cloak of darkness, clipped a piece of fabric from Trembling's old clothes and created a beautiful gown and a pretty pair of shoes. Off she went to church, not once but three times. On the last visit, the Prince of Emania grabbed her slipper. Readers will easily recognize this Cinderella variant. The tone and descriptions will draw the reader into this smoothly written retelling. The crisp stylized figures in medieval garb stand out against the clean backgrounds and the lush green of the countryside, allowing the reader to focus on the marvelous facial expressions. Don't miss the green-with-envy faces of the older sisters when the prince recognizes Trembling. 2000, Farrar Straus and Giroux, Ages 6 up, $16.00. Reviewer: Sharon Salluzzo
School Library Journal
K-Gr 4-Daly's retelling is enhanced by the lusciously colored, somewhat fey illustrations. However, it is diminished by language that is less rich than that in Joseph Jacobs's version of the tale. In that telling, for instance, when Trembling is ready to go to church, the henwife who serves as the fairy-godmother figure tells her, "I have a honey-bird here to sit on your right shoulder and a honey-finger to put on your left." The next week, when the jealous sisters, Fair and Brown, want to equal the strange lady's splendor they, "would give no peace till they had two dresses like the robes of the strange lady; but honey-birds and honey-fingers were not to be found." In Daly's telling there are no honey-birds or honey-fingers at all, and the sisters' dilemma is simply that, "such fine cloth was nowhere to be found in the land of Erin." While readers may not know what a honey-bird is, they can instinctively surmise that it's a grand, desirable, and probably magical thing. It's the glimmer of the mysterious that is most missing from Daly's serviceable words-that, and several pages of plot that detail the history of Brown and Fair's continuing perfidy after Trembling's marriage. Though attractively illustrated, the storytelling vitiates the desirability of this book for folklore collections.-Miriam Lang Budin, Chappaqua Public Library, NY Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Kirkus Reviews
Another version of the Cinderella story, this one based on a traditional Irish folktale. Three daughters, Fair, Brown, and Trembling, live with their father in a castle in the beautiful Irish countryside. Trembling, the most beautiful of the daughters, is forced to stay at home to cook and clean by her domineering older sisters, Fair and Brown. One Sunday morning, an old henwife comes into the castle's kitchen, outfits Trembling in a beautiful long white dress, and sends her along to church on a horse she has just conjured up. The henwife warns Trembling not to actually go inside the church and to jump on the horse and ride away as fast as she can the minute the service ends. Trembling causes quite a sensation among the people-she charms all of the men and evokes envy from the women, who are jealous of her beauty and her gorgeous clothes. After Trembling's third visit to the church, just as she is dashing away on her snow-white horse, the Prince of Emania pulls off one of Trembling's elegant blue slippers. The Prince and many other princes who have traveled from other parts of Ireland and from as far away as Africa to propose to Trembling, travel the country looking for the woman for whom the shoe will be a perfect fit. The prince finally finds Trembling and, after fighting off all the competing princes, claims her for his wife. They have 14 children and live happily ever after. The two sisters, by the way, are put out to sea on a barrel, a punishment that seems a tad on the harsh side considering that the sisters are mean rather than actually evil or cruel. The illustrations feature elongated, attenuated figures with indistinct, blurry faces that children may find rather inaccessibleandoff-putting. An interesting, although somewhat cold and flat retelling of the familiar story, this tale will perhaps be of more interest to students comparing versions of archetypal fairy tales than to the children for whom it is intended. (Picture book. 5-8)

Product Details

Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
10.95(w) x 8.77(h) x 0.33(d)
560L (what's this?)
Age Range:
3 - 7 Years

Meet the Author

Jude Daly has also illustrated Gift of the Sun by Dianne Stewart and The Stone by Dianne Hofmeyr. She lives with her husband, author/illustrator Niki Daly, in South Africa.

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