HMONG ABC

Jouanah: A Hmong Cinderella

Hardcover, 32 pages, 8.5x11, English
by Jewell Reinhart Coburn with Tzexa Cherta Lee
ISBN: 978-1885008-01-5

Kindergarten-Grade 3. This tender variant of the Cinderella story from the Hmong people of Asia takes place in a peasant village. After Jouanah's mother is willingly transformed into a cow to help the family prosper, her father takes another wife with a daughter who is as ugly and mean-spirited as Jouanah is kind and selfless. The stepmother lies and manipulates, the cow dies of grief, and the father soon follows his first wife to the grave. Treated cruelly, Jouanah is left at home to work during the New Year celebration. Dressed in finery bestowed by her mother's spirit, the young woman belatedly joins the festivities, catching the eye of the village elder's son. A lost slipper brings the lovers together, though the stepmother schemes to keep them apart. O'Brien's realistic, expressive paintings breathe with the atmosphere of "a sun-splashed clearing high in the mountains" while adding depth to the characters portrayed in the text.