The Golden Sandal: A Middle Eastern Cinderella Story Reviews

UPDATE TIME: 2018-04-21 
Review Score: 4 out of 5 star From 19 user ratings

"Student Name: Chris Maynard

Purpose: Cinderella Variant

Genre: Traditional Literature

Format: Picture Book

Grades: Primary through Middle School (depending on purpose)

Subjects/Themes: See the bookshelves above.

School Use: Much promise at different levels. In the primary grades, this book can simply provide some much-needed exposure to a different cultural take on the popular Cinderella tale and is great for read aloud purposes. At the intermediate and middle school grade levels, this book can be paired with another Cinderella variant for the sake of comparison and contrast, and to explore/discuss the themes of love, identity and treating others the way you wanted to be treated.

Review: I don't remember from this picture book, though it was very similar to the Grimm version of Cinderella, with the sandal lost after a party replacing the slipper lost after the ball. Thankfully, this version was not as gruesome as the Grimm version, which made the mean step-sisters pay by having their eyes peck out by crows.
" said.

"I give this two stars because the pictures were okay and the writing was decent, but I absolutely hated the story!!! It enhances the petty aspects of the Cinderella story and does nothing to enrich the good parts. The father pretty much says that ALL stepmothers will be jealous of their stepchildren (that is, it isn't just one jerky woman's issue with Cinderella!) Moreover, the romance was pathetic and revolting--the "prince" figure finds "Cinderella's" sandal where she dropped it by the bridge the night before (they had not met prior to this, mind you--she had been at a women's only party prior to a townswoman's wedding) He thinks the sandal is so dainty and beautiful that he simply must find the woman to whom it belongs and then he goes to his mother and says he wants her to find that woman to be his bride. Um, wow. I know fairytales can be "superficial" but at least in the regular telling Cinderella and the Prince do MEET and we can hope it's a true love-at-first-sight connection. That any marriage should be founded based on the looks of a SHOE...!!! My feminist views and my romantic ideals were both offended by this tale. " said.

"The Golden Sandal by Rebecca Hickox is a Middle Eastern view on Cinderella. Maha is a young girl who lives in the Middle East with her father. She begs her father to marry the neighbor, so she could have a mother, who turns out to be a mean stepmother. Maha befriends a fish who helps her fulfill her stepmothers demanding requests. The daughter of the master merchant is to be married, and every women in town attends her henna ceremony. Maha really wants to go, so the fish sends her a beautiful gown, a pearl comb and a pair of golden sandals. Maha was told to remember to leave before her stepmother so she could get home before her. She ran home to try and beat her stepmother home and tripped, loosing one golden sandal. Tariq, the brother of the bride, found her golden slipper the next day in the stream. Tariq's mother went house to house searching for the owner of the shoe. Maha was shoved in the bread oven hidden from the mother searching for the one person who fit the golden shoe. Maha was ordered to come out of the oven, and the golden shoe perfectly fit her foot. Maha and Tariq were then happily married.

There is little white space in the story, and many traditional words from the middle eastern culture. This story would be great for grade 2-4, due to the story being somewhat lengthy for a picture book.
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"Summary: The Golden Sandal is a middle eastern Cinderella story about a girl names Maha. Her mother drowned when she was little and her father remarried her stepmother. Her father is gone often fishing and Maha is left with her stepmother and stepsister. The story is about Maha finding a red fish that is magical. She spared him his life, and he offers to help her whenever she needs it. The fish is there for Maha throughout her life and helps her to achieve her goals that are not easily attainable. The fish and his magic allow Maha to attend a wealthy wedding where the golden sandal becomes the key to the “Cinderella” story when it is found by a man that wants to find Maha and make her his wife.
I really enjoyed this story. It did not feel like the Cinderella story was changed in a way that forced it to fit the middle eastern culture, it seemed very well written. I appreciated all of the details that made the culture come alive such as the names, food, chores, traditions, and clothing. I think that anyone who read this story could appreciate it for what it was and understand what the moral of the story was about even if they were not of the middle eastern culture. Although all could appreciate it, I would love to see how middle eastern students react to a book that represents their culture with such a traditional story. The end of the story has a bit a humor that can be enjoyed so much because of the great illustrations that support it.
" said.

"The Golden Sandal is a twist on the tale of Cinderella. The young girls name is Maha and she is from the Middle East. Maha wants her father to get married. Her father then passes away and she is left with her stepmother and stepsister. Her stepmother is not very nice to Maha and obviously favors her own daughter. Maha takes care of the family's chores. Instead of a fairy godmother, a fish helps Maha and gives her advice and gifts. She attends a wedding reception like event with her stepmother and stepsister and meets the bride/princess's brother. She loses her golden sandal and he finds it and declares he wants to marry the girl who lost this shoe. He goes to find the girl who lost it. Maha's wicked stepmother locks her in an oven to keep her out of sight. She is still found and marries the Prince. On their wedding night her stepmother tries to put stuff in her hair to make it fall out but it ends up making it shinier. Maha gets her Prince's brother to meet her stepsister who uses the same stuff in her hair only to have it give her blisters on her scalp and scare the other Prince away.

I liked this story because it was a very different spin on Cinderella. This story can teach a lot to children about the importance of being kind to everyone you meet and that ultimately good things happen to good people. This story would be best for children in Kindergarten through fourth grade.

This tale was very telling of Middle Eastern culture and I think children would benefit from this. I think there are too many negative stereotypes of Middle Eastern way of life in America so I loved that the heroine of the story was from this culture. The author did not seem to be Middle Eastern at all but I still felt it enlightened me on aspects of their culture, especially wedding customs.

In the classroom, I could use this book to start a lesson about Middle Eastern culture and different types of customs. I would also like to have my students write an alternate ending for the story if they were not happy with how nice Maha treated her horrible stepsister.

" said.

"What do you get when you take Cinderella's glass slipper and transport it to the Middle East? The Golden Sandal! Rebecca Hickox's delightful retelling of an Iraqi folktale "The Little Red Fish and the Clog of Gold" has all the makings of any good Cinderella story-
There once lived a fisherman whose wife drowned, leaving him with a young daughter named Maha. Nearby lived a widow with her own young daughter. Each day the widow would come and take care of Maha as the fisherman would go off to work. Maha thought the widow loved her like her own and begged her father to marry her. Reluctantly the two were married and life for Maha had changed. Her chores increased, while her stepsisters decreased. One day while fetching the fish from her father's boat, a little red fish called to her and begged for his freedom. He promised that if she let him go, he would give her anything that she wanted. Years went by and both girls turned into young women. One day, an announcement was made that the daughter of the master merchant was to be married. All the women were to gather for the celebration of the henna painting, which is a wedding tradition. The stepmother scrubbed her daughter and dressed her in her finest clothing, as mothers of young men would be there to choose brides for their sons. Maha was left at home to continue the evening chores. As soon as the others were gone, Maha ran to the river to talk to the fish. The fish dressed her in a silken gown and a pair of golden sandals. He told her to sit in the middle of the hall near the bride herself. He told her she must leave the celebration before her stepmother.
This story portrays many middle eastern traditions within a familiar folktale. Students will learn that in the middle east, marriages are arranged, and there are many different traditions that lead up to the wedding ceremony itself. But will Maha live happily ever after? What will come of her evil stepmother and stepsister.

This traditional story will enlighten children from kindergarten through third grade.
" said.

"Cinderella variations occur in so many different cultures that the story is almost universal. This particular version, which the text notes is based on a story from Iraq, has most of the traditional components: an evil step-mother, a lazy and cruel step-sister, and a magical character who helps the main character, Maha, go to a party. Here, the fairy godmother is a fish who owes Maha his life. The cultural aspects are sharply different in this story, though, from any European version. Maha does not meet or fall in love with her husband-to-be and only lays eyes on him at her wedding. Everything is arranged by the groom's mother via her daughter's wedding party. Marriage is not seen as a love relationship here but a business partnership, with Maha urging her father to marry again so he won't have to do so much work and the groom's mother encouraging him to marry when he finds Maha's sandal, which apparently he finds pretty enough that he wants to marry the owner. The unusual qualities in the story might be enough outside of the experience of most children to need further explanation. The ending, in which the step-mother still tries to ruin Maha's wedding only to ruin her own daughter's and have her sent back in disgrace, does keep some of the feel of the original story in which the stepmother and stepsisters are punished, but it does feel a bit cruel. The illustrations are reverse painted on vellum, giving them a cloudy quality in some cases, but I will admit I sometimes had difficulty telling the stepmother and stepdaughter apart in the drawings as they seemed to be identical in age. The background material at the end explaining some of the history of Cinderella tales and this one in particular was useful, and the artist's process of creating the paintings was informative. On the whole, this was a good story, but it might require further discussion with younger children, particularly any with step-parents as the father says straight out that they are dangerous to their step-children." said.

"The Golden Sandal is a Middle Eastern version of Cinderella. The heroine, Maha, begs her widowed father to marry their neighbor, the rival. Her father hesitates, cautioning Maha that a stepmother would be jealous of her. Maha protests and her father finally agrees to marry their neighbor. The stepmother eventually grows jealous of the fisherman’s daughter, who is more beautiful and talented than her own daughter. Out of anger, Maha’s stepmother gives Maha more and more chores. It was through one of her chores that Maha meets a magical little red fish- the helper- that helps Maha in many ways. One way that the red fish helps Maha is by transforming her from riches to rags to attend a henna party to attract a suitor’s mother. The fish warned Maha to leave the party before her stepmother and, in complying with the warning, Maha leaves in a hurry. During the race, Maha loses one of her golden sandals into a body of water, it is discovered by a suitor, and the suitor asks his mother to arrange a marriage with the owner of the slipper. The arrangement is successful despite the stepmother’s attempts to sabotage the arranged marriage.

This folktale has cultural integrity. The author provides a note that she researched a story from Iraq called “The Little Red Fish and the Clog of Gold,” which she used to structure The Golden Sandal with cultural integrity. Her purpose was to diversify picture books set in the Middle East, noting that Arabian Nights was one of the only Middle Eastern texts widely known by children. The illustrator used mixed media, including oil, oil pastel, egg tempera, watercolor, water soluble artist crayons, and a combination of woodless pencils. The illustrations were also based on cultural research, as noted by the author himself. The inclusion of henna and arranged marriages is representative of Middle Eastern culture.

In a second or third grade classroom, students can compare this version of Cinderella to other versions using a Double Bubble Thinking Map. Yeh-Shen: A Cinderella Story from China would pair especially well. In a fourth or fifth grade classroom, students can begin to investigate how culture and time period influenced the folktale.
" said.

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