A lot of the twists that I was surprised by and endeared to in Fawzia Gilani’s Cinderella, seemed lacking in her re-telling of Snow White. Perhaps it is the mere fact that Cinderella has a legacy of being re-told from different cultural perspectives and in different time periods, where Snow White doesn’t, that made this book stumble where her other sailed much more smoothly.
The basic premise of this Snow White version is naturally the classic tale. Snow White is the envy of her stepmother, in this case however, it isn’t a magic mirror, but a jinn who answers her questions. Once the huntsman is convinced not to kill her, and a boar’s heart and liver are taken instead, Snow White finds the companionship and shelter of the dwarves. In this re-telling, it is a female crew with countless skills that they are happy to pass on to their newest friend. When the evil stepmother finds out Snow White still lives she concocts poisonous dates to present in disguise to Snow White who is awaiting the appointed iftaar time. The dwarves arrive home too late to save Snow, but see who has done the evil deed. The Prince makes his brief appearance as he arrives at the cottage, makes dua’a for Snow and then sends his mother to nurse her back to health. In fairy tale tradition a wedding soon follows, but the evil step mother has one more trick up her sleeve, she poisons a comb that Snow is surely to use as she prepares for the big day. The dwarves cannot thwart the stepmother and Snow is only saved when the stepmother in all her vanity accidentally picks up the comb to fix her own hair. Over time she recovers and Snow forgives her and they all presumably live happily ever after.
Perhaps it isn’t fair to compare the two books, but I would imagine they are often purchased together and I feel like there are some notable differences that are worth mentioning. In Cinderella, the setting is Andalusia and they are all about the same skin tone. Snow White seems to resort back to old stereotypes and the stepmother seems to be the only one with a darker complexion with all the others being more fair. Granted her name is Snow White, but it is established on the first page that her mother prays for a child with a “heart as pure as snow,” so really that doesn’t hold up. Also, where I felt that Cinderella could work for Muslims and non Muslims alike, I think this one would be a hard sell for non Muslims. There are a lot of references to dua’as of Noah and Job, there is Ramadan, the role of the jinn, she even does tayammum at one point and readers may be confused why sometimes she is in hijab, and when home with the women she is not.
Like Gilani’s Cinderella, the book is very thorough in being Islamically appropriate. The sisterhood is a nice twist and the Prince has a really small part.
The illustrator is the same, yet for some reason the pictures seem a bit dull in this book. The bottle of poison is shimmery, but the other illustrations seem muted and almost rushed. The book is 41 pages with a glossary and Reference for Quran in the back, and is very text heavy. Probably 3rd or 4th grade level with some assistance on the Islamic concepts.
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