In my son's first grade class, his teacher read a book that told a Native American version of Cinderella. It's called The Rough-Face Girl. His class was studying different versions of Cinderella from around the world. I wanted to share this book partly because I love the theme of humility being rewarded. I also think the illustrations are awesome. They're beautiful and unique.
The story, obviously, differs from the Disney Cinderella we all know and (mostly) love. It's based on the shores of Lake Ontario. In it, there is an Invisible Being that all the girls in the village want to marry. However, his sister is very particular about whom she will let marry him. She has declared that only a woman who has seen her brother will be allowed to marry him. This is a big deal as the man is, in fact, invisible. The Rough-Face Girl is the youngest of three daughters born to a poor man. Her older sisters are vain, proud, and cruel, and they force the Rough-Face Girl to tend the fire. In doing so, she becomes scarred from sparks flying off the fire. Hence the mean name.
The older sisters decide that they will marry the Invisible Being, and they demand fine clothing and jewelry from their father before setting out. Everyone in the village sees them and fawns over how nice they look. The Invisible Being's sister is not so easily impressed. She asks questions of them to test if they've really seen her brother, and they fail abominably. The next day, the Rough-Face Girl decides to try her luck with marrying the Invisible Being. She, however, has an advantage. She's actually seen the him.
What I like most about this version of the story is the Rough-Face Girl's humility. Really, I like this about every version of Cinderella that I've seen. Rough-Face Girl is burned regularly from tending the fire, but she does it anyway. Whether on the Canada or the New York side, Lake Ontario is not a warm place in the winter. If she didn't tend the flames, it is possible they would have frozen to death. The older sisters demanded nice, new things when they wanted to meet the Invisible Being, and Rough-Face Girl asked nicely. When she couldn't get nice things, she made her own and endured mocking from her village. But, she didn't let that stop her. That's the part about humility that I think a lot of people forget: humility isn't thinking poorly of yourself. One online dictionary defines humility as "freedom from pride and arrogance." Freedom is a beautiful word. Pride and arrogance can imprison you; they keep you worried about how everyone else perceives you. They have nothing to do with how you think of yourself. The Rough-Face Girl says, "[she] had faith in herself and she had courage." I love that message. That's what kids today need to hear.