Adelita, A Mexican Cinderella Story
by Tomie dePaola
[Traditional/Folk Literature & Fairytales]
Francisco Mercado was a merchant who lived with his wife, Adela in a small village in Mexico. One day, Adela came to Francisco and announced that she was going to have a baby. They called a long-time family friend, Esperanza, to help care for Adela during her pregnancy. Adela became very ill after she birthed the baby. She died soon after the baby was born, and Francisco was devestated. He decided to name the baby Adeilate, meaning "little Adela," after his wife. Adelita brought Francisco happiness in his life. Esperanza stayed around to help care for Adelita as she grew into a young woman. One day, Francisco told Adelita and Esperanza that he was going to re-marry Dona Micaela, a widow who had two daughters close to Adelita's age. Adelita had to share her father's attention and deal with the fact that Dona Micaela favored her two daughters, Valentina and Dulce. Francisco became ill and abruptly died. Dona Micaela had been very jealous of Adelita and decided to show it now that her father was gone. She made Adelita move from her room into the attic, and she only let Adelita wear hand-me-downs. Valentina and Dulce started to be very cruel to Adelita. One day, Dona Micaela fired Esperanza and said that Adelita would now work in the kitchen. From then on, Adelita was treated terribly. Dona Micaela got invited to a party one night, and took only Valentina and Dulce, leaving Adelita at home to work. Esperanza had a dream the previous night that Adelita was not allowed to go to the party, so she came to get her and give her a ride. When Adelita was ready she looked beautiful. Adelita was greeted by Javier at the door of the party, and told everyone to call her Cinderella. Javier fell in love with "Cinderella" at first sight, and didn't leave her side that night. At the end of the night, Adelita found Esperanza and they ran all the way home. The next day, all that Dona Micaela and her daughters could talk about was the mysterious beauty "Cinderella" at the party the night before. Dona Micaela told her daughters that Javier was coming to town the next day to stop at every house until he found his Cinderella, and exclaimed that this was their last chance to win him over. When he arrived at their house, he turned down Valentina and Dulce but was convinced that his love was there. Dona Micaela said that there was noone else in the house, but Adelita quietly murmered "yes there is." Javier was relieved to have found his love, and asked her to marry him as Valentina and Dulce watched with jealousy. Javier and Adelita lived happily together for the rest of their lives.
This story is great to use with a lesson on different versions of fairy tales. Students could read Adelita along with the American Cinderella and study the similarities and differences between the two books. Students could then write their own short version of the story, which would be great writing practice. A good extension would be for students to find two versions of a different story and make comparisons between those.