Yeh-Shen: A Cinderella Story From China

Title: Yeh-Shen: A Cinderella Story From China by Ai-Ling Louie

Bibliography: Louie, A. L. (1999). Yeh-Shen: A Cinderella Story From China. New York, New York: Puffin Books.

Annotation: Yeh-Shen’s mother and father passed away, leaving her to be raised by her father’s second wife. She was terribly jealous of Yeh-Shen’s beauty and made her do most of the housework as punishment. The young girl found solace in her friend the fish; she fed him until he grew to an immense size. When Yeh-Shen’s stepmother found out, she killed the fish and served it for dinner. Struck with grief, the young girl mourned the death of her fish. One day, a spirit came to her and informed her that the fish’s bones had special powers and could help her if need be. One the day of the villages festival, where young men and women meet their future spouses, Yeh-Shen’s stepmother ordered her to stay home and keep watch over their fruit trees. With the help of the fish bones, Yeh-Shen arrived at the festival in beautiful clothes and gold shoes but unfortunately her stepmother was not fooled by her change in appearance so she went for a closer look. Yeh-Shen fled home, leaving behind one of her golden shoes. The king was determined to find the woman who left behind the golden shoe, and so he did.

Genre: Folktale

Grade Level: 1-4

Readers who will like this book: Young readers who enjoy folktales that focus around the notion of overcoming obstacles will enjoy this version of Cinderella, Yeh-Shen stays true to herself all while escaping the wrath of her stepmother.

Personal Response and rating: 5; having a spent a significant amount of time in China, I have grown to truly appreciate their artistic and stylistic choices found in the illustrations. That, in combination with the incorporation of Chinese culture into the story of Cinderella made this book one of my favorite versions.

Question: Knowing this is a Cinderella story from China, what predictions do you have? What may be different from the Cinderella story you’re familiar with?

Reading Strategy:

a.) Venn diagram

b.) Instruct students to create a Venn diagram: one side being the characteristics of Yeh-Shen, one side being the characteristics of the traditional or other version of Cinderella, and the middle being overlapping characteristics of both main characters. Then have students summarize what their Venn diagrams say.

c.) A Venn diagram would be an appropriate reading strategy for an book comparisons but applies especially well when comparing different version of the same folktale.