As retold by Shirley Climo (and just in time for St. Patrick’s Day), The Irish Cinderlad tells the story of Becan, whose chief worry since childhood was his enormous feet, until his widowed father remarried and he acquired a cruel stepmother. He runs away, befriends a magical bull and defeats a dragon, saving a princess. Running away he loses (yes, you guessed it) one of his enormous shoes.
The Irish Cinderlad is a perfect Irish tale for March, and also a fine exercise in flexible thinking. It could be fun to have students imagine a gender-swapped Cinderella before reading the story. Consider which aspects of the story would have to remain intact for it to be a Cinderella story. Which could change? Try writing a class story, and see where it leads you.
The book also could be a good introduction to the wealth of Cinderella stories from across the globe. This website provides links to eight versions of the tale, and a quick look through Amazon will help you find books for even more. Wouldn’t it be interesting to analyze how the stories are similar and different? Creating a chart of key attributes found across stories could be a good exercise in critical thinking and inspiration to create new stories set in new places—or different planets, animal kingdoms, or imaginary worlds. I’d love to hear some of them.