Yeh-Shen A Cinderella Story from China // Ai-Ling Louie


Title: Yeh-Shen A Cinderella Story from China
Retelling by: Ai-Ling Louie
Illustrator: Ed Young
Publisher: Puffin Books
Year of Publication: 1982

The modern reissue of this story is retold in the original block printed page format. The oldest European Cinderella story is an Italian tale from 1634. The Yeh-Shen telling predates that version.

Yeh-Shen is a beautiful girl forced to live with her wicked stepmother and ugly stepsister. She is responsible for all the difficult chores. Yeh-Shen’s only solace is her friend, the fish. One day stepmother deceives the fish and cooks him for dinner. Distraught, Yeh-Shen meets an old sage who tells her there’s magic in the fish’s bones. She talks to them and they provide her the things she needs to survive in the home of her awful family. When stepmother and stepsister go off to the holiday festival to find a husband, Yeh-Shen is told to stay home and watch the fruit trees. Instead, she talks to the fish bones and finds herself in a beautiful dress with a beautiful pair of magic slippers. While fleeing the festival for fear she’s been recognized, Yeh-Shen loses one of the slippers. With the slipper lost the bones are no longer magical. The slipper is found and sold to a king who longs to find its owner! For it’s the daintiest, most beautiful slipper he’s ever seen and surely its owner must be as lovely. Eventually, the King locates Yeh-Shen and she’s swept off to his beautiful home. Stepmother and stepsister aren’t nearly as lucky. They spend the rest of their days in their cave until they’re “crushed to death in a shower of flying stones.”

Young’s soft, seemingly glowing, illustrations mirror the beautiful Yeh-Shen herself. The delicate and m minimalistic images are strewn across four blocks which are etched across both the left and right sides of the book. The images flow across the boundaries of the individual boxes mimicking the swimming movement of Yeh-Shen’s only friend, the fish.


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