Errol Le Cain’s Cinderella: A World of Beauty in the Detail

Here is a magical book for you to have a look at: Cinderella by Errol Le Cain. This process of sharing my favorite illustrators has helped me realise how profoundly they have influenced me . When I am asked what my influences are, I tend to think about serious fine artists. Audrey Beardsley maybe? But in all honesty, it is people like Errol Le Cain who have shaped the way I look at things.

I wish I could draw like Errol Le Cain! Here is Cinderella doing her embroidery under the watchful eye of her stepmother and stepsisters.

I love the little touches: the pumpkin sitting there, waiting for its big moment. The little mice and lizards are always around. In the upper right hand you can see the Fairy Godmother keeping a benign lookout over her god-daughter.

This series of books by Le Cain are all set up like this. Each spread has an illustration on the left and text on the right, and the text has appropriate drawings all around it. Like this one, in which the text describes all the lovely bits and bobs that go into the making of the step sister’s costumes for the ball:

I used to draw and re-draw many variations of this theme, Cinderella dressing her sister. I was fascinated by that wig, and all that powdery hair. And notice the little mouse watching down there on the floor.

I also had long arguments with my sister about that reflection in the mirror. Is it the right way round?

I had such a hard time choosing which of these images to scan. I am not showing you all of them! It would take too long. But this one I could not leave out. I love Cinderella’s shadow on the tiles, and once again that Fairy Godmother keeping a watchful eye…

Here is a detail to give you an idea of the richness of these drawings:

Not all of the drawings are in colour. And the black and white ones are just as lovely. Cinderella being comforted by the nicest Fairy Godmother I have come across. Just look at her eyebrow antennae.

Here is a closer look:

And of course, a Cinderella book has to have a sumptuous drawing of The Dress. Traditionally The Dress is white. Or Pink. But just look at this one. If you look closely, you can see the pearlescent details in the lacy areas:

And for once the prince is just as splendiforous. And a bit more appealing than the standard page boy cut Disney prince too. Check out his high heels and curly mustachios:

And on the facing page, the jealous step mom and step sisters just do not recognise this magnificent stranger:

On the stroke of midnight, Cinderella transforms back into her kitchen self. The transformation is so convincing:

I’ve left out the “but the shoe fits” picture. But all’s well that ends well. This last drawing really does show the “happily ever after” , with a fitting farewell to the Fairy Godmother:

Cinderella's Sister
Cinderella's Sister
Sad Cinderella

24 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. rachel
    May 26, 2008 @ 19:57:46

    That is a nice drawing.

    Visiting from NCLM.

  2. Kittyquilt
    May 26, 2008 @ 21:11:49

    Those are beautiful! I love illustrations that have so many different details- it seems like everytime you look at it you see something new.

  3. Andie
    May 27, 2008 @ 16:39:49

    Wow – this is so absolutley gorgeous. Thank you so much for sharing! I am a big fan of children/youth literature (kind of embarassing, as I have much more of my childhood books than adult books in my shelf … Chronicles of Narnia, Little House on the Prairie, Madeleine L’Engle, Gordon Korman). I have never run across these amazing illustrations. I am definitely going to see if I can find some books w/ these illustrations!

  4. Becki
    May 28, 2008 @ 15:56:20

    Very pretty indeed…I like the fairy godmother best šŸ™‚

    Found you through NaCoLeavMo

  5. Shawna
    May 29, 2008 @ 22:33:50

    Those were gorgeous. I really love an exquisite book. This looks like one I will need to purchase for. Thanks for the idea.

  6. Laura NaComLeavMo
    May 30, 2008 @ 09:24:36

    Beautiful illustrations.

  7. MsPrufrock
    May 30, 2008 @ 14:13:15

    Here via NCLM, and glad that I stopped by. I’m a bit of an illustration-obsessive. I feel all giddy at the prospect of reading your previous entries!

  8. Linda
    May 30, 2008 @ 15:48:20

    What a beautiful book! I’ll have to look for it.

  9. Katt
    Jun 01, 2008 @ 20:58:18

    Wow, those are amazing! I can’t even imagine how long that book took to illustrat. Just gorgeous.

  10. Trackback: Masha » Blog Archive » Errol Le Cain’s Sleeping Beauty: Rich and Magical
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  13. rosie
    Aug 03, 2009 @ 18:40:23

    thanks so much; i had the errol le cain ‘thorn rose’ and ’12 dancing princesses’ books as a child, but i’ve never seen the ‘cinderella’.
    i’ve never forgotton the the wonder of poring over those enchanting pages…

  14. mashadutoit
    Aug 04, 2009 @ 07:36:41

    “enchanting” is right. šŸ™‚ I’ve never seen the “12 dancing princesses.” That must be lovely.

  15. Sarah
    Feb 20, 2010 @ 20:33:06


    I have very fond memories of this book as a child and, like you, being absolutely transfixed by the illustrations. I know that it is somewhere in the attic at my parents and I can’t wait to give it to my own child one day.


  16. mashadutoit
    Feb 20, 2010 @ 20:42:15

    Hi! Yes – transfixed is right. I wish he did some fabric designs, or costume design. I think they would be stunning. Masha

  17. msksquared
    Nov 07, 2010 @ 01:11:48

    Thank you! I had this wonderful book as a child and have been trying to track it down – not remembering the name of the author/illustrator, but just recalling the images so clearly. I loved it so much and am so excited to find it again.

  18. mashadutoit
    Nov 07, 2010 @ 12:49:04

    Excellent! Glad you found it again. And there are so many other books by Le Cain – lovely books, too. šŸ™‚

  19. joyce sidebotham
    Sep 19, 2011 @ 09:37:48

    I treasure my copy of Errol le Cain’s Cinderella. I never tire of looking at it and always find something else to admire about the superb drawings.

  20. mashadutoit
    Sep 19, 2011 @ 10:06:02

    Thanks for the comment, Joyce – Yes, this is one of those books that rewards leisurely rereading and re-looking at the amazing illustrations.

  21. Legoster Adit
    Mar 30, 2012 @ 05:18:11

    is so beautifull

  22. mashadutoit
    Mar 30, 2012 @ 05:41:25

    I agree! Thanks for the comment šŸ™‚

  23. Hannah
    Nov 01, 2012 @ 07:49:13

    I loved the Errol Le Cain Thorn Rose as a child. It was probably my favorite picture book. I totally wore it out and have been trying to find a nice copy of it. I’m so glad you posted this about Cinderella as I had no idea he did a Cinderella picture book. I will have to try to find it!

  24. mashadutoit
    Nov 01, 2012 @ 07:53:33

    Thanks Hannah – I hope you find it! I’ve had some luck with second hand bookshops, there are lots of other Le Cain books out there. But I think Thorn Rose and Cinderella are the best ones šŸ™‚ Probably because those are the ones I had when I was little.

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