In a land far, far away there was magic and there was brutal reality. If that sounds like a bit of a fairy tale, so it is. But when you think about the long haul of eternity, life is a bit of a fairy-tale in its beauty and pain. There are magical times and then there is the brutal reality of sorrow and loss, But with faith and effort, there is overcoming. Such are the themes of the modern fairy-tale Cinderella’s Magical Wheelchair told by Jewel Kats (illustrations by Richa Kinra) with the caveat that we can have a wonderful things, but there might be some things we will never have.
Most of us are familiar with the iconic Disney animated film with Cinderella’s fairy godmother, the pumpkin coach and the mice attendants who outfit our heroine for the ball. If you visited NYC, you might have taken your daughters to Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella on Broadway. There are film versions and adaptations, for example Ever After: A Cinderella Story starring Drew Barrymore and Kenneth Branagh has directed a live action Cinderella which is slated to come out in March 2015.
The Cinderella story is mythic, digging into the heart of every girl’s and every woman’s unconscious needs. The handsome, wealthy prince takes kind, sweet Cinderella away from the horror of her wretched, abusive Stepmother and wicked, ugly, demeaning Stepsisters. For the rest of her life as Mrs. Prince, Cinderella “lives happily ever after,” while the Prince with his inherited family wealth supports her in comfort and style, wiping out all the sad memories of her hurtful treatment by the “Steps.” The irony is a man, Charles Perralt, wrote the story in 1697, not a woman. Indeed, the story supports a paternalistic, oppressive culture which inspires women to endure the drudgery of life with the hope that “one day, their prince will come” and if she is proposed to, her man is her prince and “king of his castle.” Such is the stuff that inspires Golddiggers and naive brides alike. Unfortunately, the reality of marriage and “happily ever after” is very different.
That is why I like Jewel Kats’ retelling of Cinderella. In Cinderella’s Magical Wheelchair. Kats’ Cinderella is disabled. However, her spirit and attitude are not broken. When the fairy godmother comes to transport her to the ball, she doesn’t touch her wand to Cinderella’s feet or legs creating mobility. Some things do not change; at 12:00 AM, all returns to what it was before. But something magical does happen to Cinderella’s wheelchair. At the ball, the prince is intrigued by this woman and forgets about her disability. What he understands about her touches his heart.
At 12:00 AM they part and reality sets in once more, but the ball has opened Cinderella’s eyes. She leaves the miserable life she led with her Steps, packs up and sets out on her own. This is a self-reliant woman who knows how to take her skills and use them to live and support herself. She is not “waiting for her prince to come.” She will make it on her own.
What happened at the ball? Does she eventually meet up with the prince again? Well, you’ll have to find out for yourself. I’m not telling. I do think that Kats’ version is the most modern and prescient of all. What I love about it is that to a great extent, it explodes the dangerous myth that there is “happily ever after” in marriage. Not that there isn’t, but that you have to work at it and some things, some realities, you cannot change. You must adjust to them.
This is a very important message to bring to young girls. Life can hold magic and pain, and the most disabled are those who are wicked, jealous and cruel.
Some fairy tales are not told by paternalists, but are retold by resilient, smart women.
The timeless story of “Cinderella” dates back to 1697 when first created by Charles Perrault,
Have you ever heard, “It’s all in your attitude?” Well, Ditzabled Princess by Jewel Kats and artist Katarina Andriopoulos is an adorable mid-level children’s “comical” book that teaches a wonderful lesson about it. With a positive, uplifted attitude one will draw friends, family and others toward love and a spirit of living life to the fullest.
We are not talking Pollyanna, here, either. We are discussing a strong realistic and affirming way to view circumstances with an approach that uses humor and humanity to get over what a negative individual might carp, complain and stress themselves into a hellish place over. Thank goodness, Jewel Kats is the opposite, for she has given us a Jewel of a book that even adults would appreciate. And I can think of a few adults who need to “get over themselves” that I will probably buy this book for when they need a laugh.
Ditzabled Princess is a diary of a 33 year old disabled princess. Please underscore princess. There is nothing disabled about this women. In fact she is so capable, it’s like she is living the life of three able bodied individuals rolled into the body of one beautifully spirited and outwardly lovely person. Jewel tells us who she is in a nutshell: “a demanding Diva who loves to shop as much as she loves to write.” Jewel is assisted by a lovely “hot pink elbow crutch.” What’s not to love?
Jewel Kats is much, much more, of course. Add to that creative, talented and very clever, and she is aided and abetted by her “Dad,” her “Mom,” her beloved “Hubby,” “Baby Sis,” “Middle Sis,” and B.F.F. (best friend forever). And each of them in their own right “handles” this diva with love, humor and at times, utter frustration. Did I mention that this princess is also a bit of a messy house keeper and not a very good cook? I don’t know about you, but I’m down with that.
By the end of reading the comical exploits of Jewel Kats (I had a smile on my face the entire time.) I understood what I should do. Any time that inner critic (You know the one who criticizes you at the most rotten times.) opens her mouth to say something really dark about where I am along my own journey, I would get out Ditzabled Princess and read it again for the humor, the wisdom and the CLEVERNESS which will snuff out that nasty feeling. And I will especially go to pages 50-51 and read them over a few times, then read them to my niece who will really appreciate them. (She’s around 11 going on 18 and is a princess-in-training.)
Now, don’t expect me to tell you what’s on those pages. You will just have to buy the book on Amazon yourself.
Thanks to Chris Miller for introducing me to the Ditzabled Princess Jewel Kats. Wish I had known of her sooner…I could have honed my princess skills with her tips.