Childrens Book Review of Adelita: A Mexican Cinderella Story by Tomie dePaola

by DerdriuMarriner

Mexico evokes winsome clothes, foods, peoples, and places. “Adelita: A Mexican Cinderella Story” has beans, red shawls, tortillas, and white dresses. It also offers happy endings.

Central Mexico and northern Mexico belong to North America according to the geographer’s classification system. Southern Mexico gets categorized as:
• Central America, geographically;
• Latin America, linguistically;
• Mesoamerica, traditionally.

The entire country is a popular business, get-away, and research destination precisely because of its diverse cultural geography.

So it may come as no surprise that Mexican culture lends itself nicely to North America’s most popular, profitable children’s story, Cinderella, while injecting distinctly Central, Latin, and Middle American elements. Cinderella-like stories occupy beloved places within Mexico’s regional folklore and literature, for insights into:
• cultural values;
• family life;
• traditional behavior;
• universal truths.

“Adelita: A Mexican Cinderella Story” packages all of the above into a delightful, educational, uplifting ensemble.

Tomie dePaola's signature

personal autograph
personal autograph


The Cinderella figure appears as Adelita (“Little Noblewoman”) Mercado Martínez in author-illustrator Tomie dePaola’s able hands. Adela dies shortly after Adelita’s delivery. Adelita nevertheless emerges as a young beauty thanks to:

  • Her father Francisco’s love;
  • Nanny Esperanza’s devotion.

Francisco expires from a sudden illness after marrying Señora Micaela de la Fortuna, the widowed mother of two daughters. Doña Micaela fires Esperanza. She has Adelita:

  • Clean;
  • Cook;
  • Design dresses, press and wash clothing, stitch lace and ribbons for Dulce and Valentina;
  • Move into the attic;
  • Wear hand-me-downs.

She knows that Adelita is a beloved childhood acquaintance of Javier Gordillo. But she refuses to let Adelita attend the homecoming party which Señor Javier’s parents hold at the Gordillo ranch.


For the party which changes her life, Adelita wears a white dress which sets off her bird- and flower-embroidered shawl: White dresses are traditional festival apparel in Mexico.

Mexican festival, Provo, Utah
Mexican festival, Provo, Utah


Esperanza appears after the departure of Adelita’s stepfamily. She braids Adelita’s tresses with flowers and ribbons. She brings Adela’s bird- and flower-embroidered shawl and old-fashioned white dress from a trunk in the storage room.  She gets Adelita to the party in a borrowed cart. Adelita introduces herself as Cenicienta (“Cinderella”). Fearing exposure as a kitchen maid unworthy of the town’s most eligible bachelor, Adelita leaves at midnight despite Javier’s:

  • Dancing and dining only with her;
  • Kissing her;
  • Professing undying love.

Javier makes house-to-house searches the next day. He notices Adela’s shawl hanging from an attic window. He marries Adelita with Doña Micaela’s permission. Adelita and Javier welcome her stepfamily as wedding guests and Esperanza as household member.


Adelita by Tomie dePaola

Tomie dePaola?s exquisite paintings, filled with the folk art of Mexico, make this a Cinderella story like no other.
Cinderella tales around the world



Adelita: A Mexican Cinderella Story appears in English language format, with regular phrasing in Spanish. The English translations can be found after the Spanish phrases and in the glossary at the story’s end. The book’s release in 2002 draws upon the talents of:

  • Tomie dePaola, as artist and author;
  • Gina DiMassi and Cecilia Yung, as book designers;
  • G.P. Putnam’s Sons, as publisher;
  • South China Printing Co., as Hong Kong-based printer.  

The text is set most attractively and legibly in Esprit Bold against the artistic acrylics effectuated on 140-pound Arches cold-pressed handmade watercolor paper. It offers bi-cultural diversity, educational entertainment, family fun, and Mexican insights for readers aged 5 years and upward and students attending kindergarten and onward.


Adelita: A Mexican Cinderella Story by Tomie dePaola

Spanish edition
Cinderella tales around the world



My special thanks to:

  • Talented artists and photographers/concerned organizations who make their fine images available on the Internet;
  • Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University for superior on-campus and on-line resources.


Meet Tomie dePaola

Published on YouTube on June 17, 2013 by Open Road Media ~ URL:

Sources Consulted


dePaola, Tomie. 2002. Adelita: A Mexican Cinderella Story. G.P. Putnam's Sons.


the end which is also the beginning
the end which is also the beginning

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Me and my purrfectly purrfect Maine coon kittycat, Augusta "Gusty" Sunshine

Gusty and I thank you for reading this article and hope that our product selection interests you; Gusty Gus receives favorite treats from my commissions.
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
DerdriuMarriner, All Rights Reserved
Updated: 11/13/2021, DerdriuMarriner
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DerdriuMarriner on 12/04/2014

Mira, Me, too, I appreciate Mr. dePaola as a "creator of magic." It's amazing how much can be learned from fairy and folk tales, both of which enchant children, whose young minds would seem not to perceive the deep truths therein. Or perhaps they do perceive them, according to those who believe that children are born omniscient and gradually bury/forget/lose the awareness of that wisdom during the childhood journey through the "real" world.
Me, too, I also appreciate folk tales.

Mira on 12/04/2014

Tommy dePaola sounds and looks like a creator of magic. I like what he says about folk tales and fairy tales. I love folk tales, too, so very much!

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