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A Hmong Cinderella

Book: Jouanah: A Hmong Cinderlla adapted by Jewell Reinhart Coburn with Tzexa Cherta Lee

Ages: 6+

Relationship to country: This is fairytale from the Hmong culture; many people from the Hmong culture live in Laos and across other countries in Southeast Asia

Book in a nutshell: This book will really remind you of the Cinderella story, but a little different


This story starts with a problem, and the problem is that the family does not have a cow to help with their farm. The father tried to go to the market to get a cow, but there was a contest about drinking soup the fastest and the other man put cold water in his soup so that he could drink his soup the fastest. The other man got to buy the only cow at the market. So the farmer still had no cow. 

The mother wanted to help her family, and she offered to become a cow and help with the farm. After the mother turned into a cow, the father was greedy and married a second wife. The second wife was really not nice at all. She was constantly getting jealous of how beautiful the farmer's daughter, Jouanah, was and how the father and Jouanah still cared so much for their cow. The other parts of the story will sound very familiar to you if you know the story Cinderella. Jouanah is very sweet and beautiful and has a kind heart, but the stepmother makes her work very hard while she is lazy. Even though Jouanah has a difficult life and bad things happen to her, her mother's spirit is always with her. There is some magic, a party, and a missing shoe, just like in Cinderella.

It is very interesting that another culture all the way around the world has a Cinderella story just like us. I wonder if we got our Cinderella story from the Hmong people, or if the Hmong people got their Cinderella from us, or if many cultures have their own Cinderella stories all on their own.