A book I can highly recommend – and wish more people knew about – is David Henry Wilson’s The Coachman Rat. The main character is, naturally, the rat turned coachman from Cinderella, named Robert. After the iconic story, the book then goes on to chronicle Robert’s life post-transformation (or rather post-post-transformation, as he’s turned back into a rat at the stroke of midnight). The writing is wonderful, but that’s only one of the many good things about the book. Cinderella, her stepfamily, and the Prince may be minor characters, but for me, they stand out from other modern versions. Further, Robert as a rat has a unique, non-human viewpoint that he’s willing to discuss with the more open-minded characters in the book. Though there are plenty of close-minded characters as well, who want to fit Robert’s experience in with either their expectations or their plans.
But it’s not all a fun fairy tale. At about the middle of the book, the story takes a very dark turn. It veers off so wildly that I don’t want to say how, as it would ruin the surprise. And even though it is a radical departure from the first half, it is completely in line with the personalities that lead up to it. Perhaps the reason it comes as such a surprise is that it’s not the sort of thing that usually shows up in tales like these, which for me made it all the better.
Although it’s likely to be found in libraries, it’s unfortunately out of print. Which is a shame, as it really is one of the more creative versions of a very often-told tale.
My blog address is http://art-sam-ples.blogspot.com/– which contains, among other things, pages from Frog Prince and Gingerbread Man books I made for my kids, along with other fairytale-inspired drawings. My website is http://www.samuelvalentino.com/.
Thanks very much - Sam Valentino