Author: Shirley Climo
Artist: Ruth Heller
Genre: Fairy Tale / Folktale / Korea
Year Published: 1993
Year Read: 2012
Content Rating: Ages 5+ (Child Mistreatment)
For many years, I have read so many different interpretations of “Cinderella,” but I have never come across a Korean version of this classic tale! “The Korean Cinderella” is a glorious retelling of the classic “Cinderella” written by Shirley Climo along with illustrations by Ruth Heller and it will surely be an instant hit with children who love reading stories from other cultures!
In the land of Korea, where magical creatures existed, there lived a young girl named Pear Blossom who was extremely beautiful. One tragic day however, her mother died and her father ended up marrying a mean and spiteful woman named Omoni, who also has a daughter named Peony and they were both cruel to Pear Blossom and made her do all the work around the house. Even though Omoni forces Pear Blossom to do so many chores, Pear Blossom is helped by many magical creatures such as a magical frog, magical sparrows and a magical ox. One day however, a festival is held and Pear Blossom notices the handsome magistrate, but she accidentally leaves behind one of her sandals, which the magistrate ends up finding.
I will admit that I have read so many different versions of Cinderella that the story itself becomes familiar to me, no matter how different the versions are. Shirley Climo has done a brilliant job at writing this Korean retelling of the classic fairy tale as the story is truly breathtaking and marvelous to read about. I loved the way that Shirley Climo portrayed the magical creatures that eventually help Pear Blossom on her chores as regular animals such as a frog, a pack of sparrows and an ox as that really brought out the beauty of Korean folktales. I also loved the Korean phrases that were shown in this book such as Omoni, which means ‘Mother’ and ‘tokgabi’ which means ‘goblin.’ Ruth Heller’s illustrations are truly beautiful in this book as they were inspired by the patterns painted on the eaves of Korean temples, which truly brings out the true spirit of Korea. Probably my favorite illustrations in this book were of the characters themselves, as they show realistic facial expressions whenever they are unhappy or whenever they are mad, such as the image of Peony having her hair be pulled by the sparrows and you can see the anguish look on her face as her hair is being pulled.
Overall, “The Korean Cinderella” is a brilliant adaptation of a classic fairy tale that fans of the “Cinderella” stories will surely love to read over and over again! I would recommend this book to children ages five and up since some of the Korean phrases like “Omoni” and “Tokgabi” might be hard for younger children to understand.