The Algonquin Cinderella
Last week I read a picture book called The Rough-Face Girl. (Whenever a group of children's books comes through our department, I generally read a few of them for fun.) In a nutshell, the story is about a girl with a scarred face (from having to sit too close to the fire) who triumphs over her vain older sisters to marry a mysterious Invisible Being.
The dustjacket blurb called it a "powerful Cinderella story" and there are definitely a lot of Cinderella-esque elements in it (i.e., a protagonist who sits by the fire and competes with two sisters for an eligible bachelor). Some obvious Cinderella elements are also missing: glass slippers (or any kind of special shoes or clothing), a bride-finding ball (or any special gathering), and supernatural intervention in getting to the ball (although the groom, himself, has supernatural elements).
I've seen and read many variations on the Cinderella story. We counted once that my mother had no fewer than ten different versions on VHS when I was growing up: two ballets, one opera, three musicals, one cartoon, one version with Muppets, etc. (My mother was insistent that we would not grow up thinking that the Disney version was the only one out there.) However, this Algonquin story raised questions that the other Cinderella versions never had. If this tale predated European contact, was it merely a coincidence that it resembled the tale made famous by the Grimms and Perrault? Was it reflective of some sort of Jungian collective subconscious? Or had the folktale been shaped to fit a story more familiar to Americans?
Closer reading of a note in the front indicated that the original tale is longer and more complex. Maybe I'll see if I can track it down, for comparison.