cinderella

When I published yesterday's post about Anne & Rilla, I knew I was in danger of being wrong about my childhood influences. For various reasons, I have poor access to my memory, although it's very good once I do access it. So I wasn't surprised to be reminded this morning of the first gentle heroine I encountered in my life, and the influence she had on me.

When I was five, my father brought home three British pantomime albums (that being the era of the record player) - Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, & Jack and the Beanstalk. Their covers were beautiful, their stories witty and engaging, and the voices of the actors touched my heart in ways only voice can.




I especially loved the brilliantly witty Cinderella story. The cover picture looked similar to me so I could imagine myself as the character - not as living her story, but as being her in my own life. Because she was lovely. Four decades before Kenneth Branagh's movie about Ella's kindness, this Cinderella had such beautiful kindness, patience, goodness, gentleness. (Sleeping Beauty did also, but I loved Cinderella best.) I was a child who had been raised quietly. I wasn't surrounded by rowdy crowds of other children (such as I see in our neighbourhood daycare centres and kindergartens these days). There was space to hear gentleness. To dream.

I think I fell in love with Cinderella because it was an audio recording. I was able to create the imagery in my own mind, which meant a deeper engagement than with a movie - or even with a book, since the characters had their own voices and so seemed more real. In any case, I grew up believing Cinderella was the ideal. (Her stepsisters were fiesty, determined, and self-willed, so much the modern day idea of a heroine.) Probably this is why I deeply value kindness, gentleness. She was also dreamy, wishful. As a small child, I had been given a kindred spirit - or perhaps more so a guide to how a girl might be.

The album remained in my household for many years. "Proclamation! proclamation!" from one of its songs became our answering machine greeting (which in turn became rather famous). Somewhere along the way, the album disappeared. But the heart of it is with me always. That is why I tend to dislike the fast-paced, adventure-based, cynical stories for children these days. What heart do they share with our children's hearts? What values and life vision do they impart?

Cinderella, Stevie Nicks, Anne Shirley.  Goodness, magic, dreaming hope.

9 comments:

  1. I never really read a lot of children´s books when I was a child. I did read some, Finnish ones you haven´t heard of, and I hated them. I read Laxness, Vilhelm Moberg´s The Emigrants-series and everything else I could find in my parents bookshelf before I was 12 years old.
    I only started reading all of those classic children´s books when I was 18 I think. I read the Anne-books, and Emily of New Moon, The Little Women books and others and I loved them all. And I can´t help thinking what would it have been like to have read them as a child? It surely would have been different, reading them then. Would I have liked them as much then? How would I be different myself, if I had been reading Emily of New Moon when I was a child, instead of rather grim Skandinavian novels...

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    1. I am sorry you had such dark books in your childhood. Mine were mostly Enid Blyton! And Girls Own Adventure stories. Five Little Peppers was a favourite, I never did like Little Women. And once I got to school it was all silly modern novelettes for children (although this was a long time ago, so "modern" doesnt really count for it now!) School was so boring.

      I don't feel kindred to Emily of New Moon. Most people I know prefer her to Anne but I have never really liked the character. But she seems widely beloved, so it's obviously just me :-)

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    2. I should add, I like Little Women now (I got to read all the wonderful classic books properly when homeschooling). Although I don't relate to Jo, I much prefer Meg and Beth. :-) Again, unlike the rest of the female population!

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  2. To hear rather than to see always evokes magical imagery in your mind. Listening to a play on the radio or reading a book is always a good way to get completely involved creating your own pictures. My favourite fairy tale when I was a child was Rapunzel, it still is. I read Bitter greens a couple of years ago which was a retelling of the tale. Wonderful.

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    1. I love Rapunzel too. I've read Bitter Greens. :-) I hope you're having a lovely day.

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  3. i also had a quiet, dreamy childhood, with not much exposure to groups of other children. as an only child in a rural area, i had my own world of animals and trees and stories. my parents worried that i would turn out antisocial, so they enrolled me in a preschool (which at that time was fairly unusual---most children went to school in kindergarten for the first time)...it was, ahem, not a striking success: after a week or two the headmistress suggested that i remain at home. this was because in my horror at the chaos, i kept slipping out of the school and going up various trees on the property...so i was returned to my quiet home life and my stories, and all was well. (by my lights, at least.)

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  4. You helped me remember that my mom would put on a tape of fairytales in the car, to entertain me. I still remember them now. And she would read to me as well, stories, and my dad too. I remember him reading the story of the princess on the glass hill while I was lying in bed. I loved that one especially.

    It also makes me remember how I felt there was something wrong with me because I was very quiet. And I wanted time alone. When the weekend rolled around I didn't want to hang with friends, but wandered into the forest and played there. Most heroines are strong willed and outgoing. I miss seeing more of the sensitive, quiet kind :)

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    1. such beautiful memories <3 I love that story too, it was always one of my favourites.

      I would like more of those heroines too.

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