Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Yeh Shen: a Cinderella story from China

Louie, Ai-Ling. Yeh Shen: a Cinderella story from China, New York: Philomel, c1982.

This picture book won an award for children’s books. This Chinese folklore is set in the Chinese Han dynasty.  A poor girl named Yeh Shen lives with her stepmother and a stepsister. Her stepmother doesn’t like Yeh Shen because she is more beautiful and kinder than her own daughter and treats her poorly. Yeh Shen’s only one friend is a beautiful fish with golden eyes. But one day her stepmother kills the fish and cooks it for dinner. While Yeh Shen is crying for the dead fish, a mysterious old man appears and tells her a secret; the fish bones are filled with a powerful spirit, so Yeh Shen retrieves the bones from trash and hides them in a safe place. After a time, her stepmother and stepsister leave for the spring festival to look for a mate for her daughter and leave Yeh Shen alone at home. Yeh Shen desires to go to that party, so she begs the bone for clothes to wear. Her dream comes true. She is suddenly dressed in a brilliant gown and cloak. On her feet are a pair of gorgeous golden slippers. She grabs all the attention in the village, but she leaves one of her golden slippers behind when she is dashing out of the village due to the fear of being discovered by her stepmother. Soon a merchant finds her lost slipper and the slipper is passed on to the king. The king wonders who is the owner of this tiny slipper and sends people to search around his kingdom, and finally finds Yeh Shen. The king is captivated by her beauty and marries her and lives happily ever after.

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