Updated: Jun 17, 2020

The fairy tale everyone thinks they know (with a little bit of teaching about RHYME!)

This week we enter into a bit of a transition period where all kind of adjustments are starting to be made following lockdown. No doubt, there are plenty of emotions fizzing and whizzing around in us all and so I thought we might start the week with a bit of a giggle - enter the inimitable Roald Dahl and his entertaining take on the classic fairy tale Cinderella!



So, quick background-bite: Cinderella is a folk tale about unjust oppression and triumphant reward. There are hundreds of thousands of versions known and told across the world and essentially they all contain a young, persecuted heroine living miserably whose circumstances suddenly change for the better! The earliest known version of the story is that of Rhodopis, recounted by a Greek geographer called Strabo about two thousand years ago. It's a tale about a Greek slave girl who ends up marrying the king of Egypt! There's also another very old variant of the story (this one about a thousand years old). This is the Chinese tale of Ye Xian. The first European version of the story was published in Italy by Giambattista Basile in his Pentamerone in 1634 and the one we would feel the most familiar with is the version published in French by Charles Perrault in Histoires ou Contes du Temps Passé in 1697. The Brothers Grimm published their version in 1812.

In Perrault’s version the scooping of the pumpkin is the most grisly event, but in Grimm’s version, one of the sisters cuts her toe off to fit her foot in the shoe and then a bird starts chanting about it! There's also the cutting off of the heel off when one sister wants to fit her foot in the shoe and, at the wedding, both of the sisters get their eyes pecked out! So, while it may be tempting to say that Roald Dahl gets a bit too grisly in his own revolting rhyme, it seems he's simply following in the footsteps of the earlier texts!

‘Cinderella’ by Roald Dahl was published in 1982 in his collection 'Revolting Rhymes' (a satirical take on our favourite folk and fairy tales). Dahl offers us entertaining alternatives with a surprising and pleasing endings, writing in a lighthearted sing song-like tone using the most basic of rhyming patterns, even when the subject matter becomes dark!


1. Listen to Storynory's version of Cinderella -

2. Watch this extract of the 2019 animation of the poem - and see the whole poem illustrated on Youtube (WARNING: watch out for the two lines near the end where the prince refers to Cinderella a 'slut' albeit as a dated expression (be ready for questions when that comes up!) -

3. Visit the Roald Dahl website -

4. Try telling/writing your own 'novelty' version of a classic fairytale. Here's a rhyming dictionary to use - and younger children might also find this helpful -

5. Read some more of the Perrault's fairytales together -

6. Grab some props - of the general household variety - and check out just how hilarious you can make your own re-working of Cinderella!

7. Try some rhyme - ,

8. Using story stones/dice (see my post about outdoor activities for kids), devise your own adventure for Cinderella now that she's free!

9. Educational resources for writing -

10. Buy the book or audio CD if you enjoyed this story!

11. Create and craft your own pumpkin carriage or try this balloon version instead -


1. Visit the Roald Dahl website -

2. Create an animation of this version of the fairytale - which is sure to be WEIRD! Check out the free online animation software out there...and be sure to ask parents before you install anything!

3. Sharpen your rhyming skills before you break out your story scribbling equipment. Check out

4. Find a bit more out about the Charles Perrault and his fairytales -

5. Test your mathematical skills with these tall tale inspired riddles by Ted Ed -

6. Write your own version of another classic fairytale and in the style of Roald Dahl's version. You might find the rhyming dictionary helpful!

7. Create and craft your own fairy tale palace... then EAT it!

8. Try these comprehension activities based on Roald Dahl's version of Cinderella - (Registration is free with TES)

9. Learn about SATIRE -,

10. Learn about PARODY -


"What if Cinderella had an attitude problem and Snow White liked cider too much? What if Ariel enjoyed human company more than her own kind’s and Aurora just liked her solitude more than the human touch? What if the only rabbit hole Alice ever fell down involved a pipe and a substance not discussed as such? What if they locked Wendy up for hallucinating about Neverland and a boy who never grew up? What if fairytales weren’t as innocent as they sounded and even princesses weren’t perfect? What if I told you your damage doesn’t define you and the way you survive is no one else’s damned business?" - - Nikita Gill, Fairytales Aren’t Perfect Either


1. Read Nikita Gill's 'Cinderella's Mother Sends Her A Message From Heaven' in her poetry collection of 'Fierce Fairytales - Feminist Fairytales for the Young and Old' -'s%20mother%20sends%20her%20a%20message%20from%20heaven&f=false

2. Browse these four opinion articles. Does Cinderella actually have feminist potential? -,, , What are your thoughts?


#story #stories #storytelling #storytellingforkids #storytellingwithkids #thewildofthewords #thestoryblog #fairytale #folktale #cinderella #roalddahl #revoltingrhymes

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