Chanderalla of Harlem
by Jenna Bush

Once upon a time in the outskirts of Harlem lived a young woman named Chanderalla. Chanderalla was very beautiful. She had dark skin and hazel eyes and black long hair. But, it was the love that radiated through her that made her so extraordinary. Chanderalla had lived an unusually hard life. Her precious mother who had taught her to read and write died when she was only eleven. She and her father lived alone in their apartment for several years until her father told her he was looking for a new wife. He said, "Chanderalla I loved your Mama. But a man gets lonely without a woman to love." So that was that. Chanderalla’s father attended the local dances at the VFW and soon was married. His new wife was very beautiful. She had black velvet skin and milk chocolate eyes but, her heart was empty and her soul was cold. She brought two daughters who like their mother were beautiful but evil.

Chanderalla’s new family treated her terribly. Her two new stepsisters moved into her room and she was forced to move her belongings to the basement. Her new stepmother treated her as a slave. She would spend every second she was not in school cooking and cleaning for her stepmother.

On day a grand invitation for the Harlem street festival arrived in the mail. Chanderalla’s two step sisters were overjoyed. They called to Chanderalla and said, "Braid our hair. Wash our clothes. Polish our shoes. We are going to attend the festival and meet the mayor’s son and get married." Chanderalla did as she was told but she was filled with despair because she knew her evil stepmother would never let her go. Finally, a couple days before the festival Chanderalla got the nerve to beg her stepmother to let her go the festival. She said, " Oh, dearest stepmother how I would love to go to the festival with you and my stepsisters." Her stepmother just looked at her and laughed she said, " Do you think I would let you go and embarrass our family? You don’t have the proper clothes. You don’t even know how to dance." Chanderalla ran out of the room in tears.

As she lay in bed that night Chanderalla tried to think of a plan. Although she always respected the orders her stepmother requested of her, she decided she was going to that festival. As she drifted off to sleep she dreamed of a beautiful dress her mother once owned. In her dream the dress was on a hanger in the attic. When she awoke she knew what she would do. She would wear her mother’s old dress and wear a mask so that her evil stepmother would not recognize her.

The night of the festival Chanderalla helped her stepsisters dress and saw them off. Then as soon as they were gone Chanderalla went up to the attic and put on the beautiful dress. Chanderalla called a taxi and was off to the festival. As soon as Chanderalla entered the ballroom the mayor’s son approached her and asked her to dance. They danced all night and talked the entire time about their lives. All the other girls attending the dance including Chanderalla’s stepsisters stared at Chanderalla with envy. When the stroke of the clock turned midnight Chandralla turned from the mayor’s son and ran out of the ballroom. When her stepsisters arrived home Chaderalla was lying in a basket of ashes with dirt covering her worn clothes.

The next day the mayor’s son announced that her was conducting a search for the mysterious girl who disappeared the night before. He went to every apartment in Harlem where an invitation was sent. Finally, at dusk he arrived at Chanderalla’s apartment. He looked at both of the evil stepsisters and shook his head. He was about to walk out the door when he heard a beautiful song coming form the basement. And he knew it was the girl. He ran down the basement stairs and found her in tattered clothes. Despite her change of appearance, he knew it was she by her soft skin and her hazel eyes. The mayor’s son took her and they were soon married. Chanderalla attended college (which she could now afford) and lived happily ever after. Her stepsisters however, she never saw again.

I chose to revise Cinderella by changing some things about the heroine. First, I made her African American. I think it is unfortunate that there are no fairy tales with an African American heroine. Secondly, I made Chanderalla more intelligent. She didn’t just get married but she also went to college.

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