PAWTUCKET — Think the time has come for a modern take on the classic fairytale “Cinderella?” One which follows the story of a handicapped young woman dealing with life and her unkind step-sisters in a gritty, urban setting (until, of course, she meets her “Prince Charming”)? Then it's time to join the “Kickstarter” campaign.
Light Publications, a Pawtucket-based publishing company headed by award-winning author and storyteller Mark Binder, has written just such a fairytale. Called “Cinderella Spinderella,” it's an electronic or “eBook” that will be available for reading on Kindle, Nook, Kobo, iPad (iBooks) and Droid. There will be an audio narration track and, more importantly, four different illustrated versions of Cinderella and the prince: black, white, Hispanic and Asian. Steve Mardo, a graduate of Massachusetts College of Art and Design, is doing the illustrations.
What's different with this book project is that Binder plans to develop it through what is known as “crowd-source funding.” Those who believe in backing “Cinderella Spinderella” are encouraged to pledge money with a credit card through the “Kickstarter” website. In return, they would receive certain premiums, which range from having their names listed in the eBook's credits to having their likeness captured in the illustrations or enjoying a live storytelling performance from the author himself.
Through the terms of Kickstarter, this project will only be funded if at least $5,555 is pledged by Friday, Feb. 15 at 4:14 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. The minimum pledge is $1 (which buys a name in the credits) with pledge amounts rising in increments tied to more valuable rewards. These include such perks as personalized eBooks, original signed illustrations, and posters for pledges of $10 and up, and at the higher end ($300 and up), portrait or product placement, an online narration of the story by Binder via Skype, or an in-person visit by the author to a school or other organization.
Binder, who has published numerous print books the traditional way, is excited about the possibilities that the “crowd-source funding” can provide. So far, he has raised about half of the money he needs to reach his goal, and is trying to get the word out about “Cinderella Spinderella” through a variety of ways. These include newspapers and social networking sites like FaceBook and Twitter to old-fashioned “word of mouth” publicity.
Working out of his office in Hope Artiste Village, Binder said he has been writing stories for children and adults for more than 20 years. His collections include “The Bed Time Story Book,” “Kings, Wolves, Princesses and Lions,” “Genies, Giants and a Walrus,” and “It Ate my Sister,” and his work regularly appears in Cricket Magazine. More than 200 of his stories have been published and he has also produces two live storytelling albums and several eBooks.
Binder also believes that reading and storytelling are critical to children's development and literary skills. He performs at festivals, theaters, libraries, schools, synagogues, churches, community centers and other venues throughout the United States. (As an aside, he's also the same Mark Binder
who ran for state representative against Speaker of the House Gordon Fox in the last election.)
Binder said he got the idea for a rework of “Cinderella” from two sources: telling stories in Newport at a camp for children with handicaps and that same summer, sharing stories with inner-city youngsters in Boston. “There aren't very many classic stories that feature kids in wheelchairs, and most fairytales don't play out in the urban streets,” said Binder.
After considering “Little Red Riding Chair” and “Jack in the Bean Chair,” he came up with the concept of Cinderella, but with a different spin. This Cinderella is handicapped, living in a poor neighborhood and dealing with two stepsisters who are less than loving and tolerant. He said that when he began telling the story, he realized that his audience didn't mind the idea of Cinderella being in a wheelchair.
Binder said he has put more realism into “Cinderella Spinderella” so that it reads as an urban tale. He noted that in the well known Disney version, even when Cinderella is made to clean the house, her surroundings are never actually dirty. “For example, when she's sweeping in her house, she finds white mice. In my story, she finds cockroaches,” he said. He has been collaborating with Mardo so the illustrations convey the look and feel of an inner city household.
A bigger selling point with “Cinderella Spinderella” is the multi-cultural and multi-racial feature, which is also more reflective of today's diverse society, Binder points out. In the eBook, the reader will have the ability to choose the basic ethnicity of Cinderella and the prince. He said this idea was also gleaned from his live performances, where he purposely doesn't provide descriptions of the characters in order to allow listeners to paint their own mental pictures. He added that usually, the listeners imagine themselves, so this e-book will allow for a personalized version.
According to its website, Kickstarter is a funding platform for creative projects that are brought to fruition through the direct support of others. These projects have included everything from films, games and music to art, design and technology. Since its launch in 2009, over $450 million has been pledged by more than three million people, funding more than 35,000 creative projects.
Funding on Kickstarter is all or nothing. Every project creator sets their project's funding goal and deadline. Project creators keep 100 percent ownership of their work. If people like the project, they can pledge money to make it happen. If the project succeeds in reaching its funding goal, all backers' credit cards are charged when the deadline expires.
If the project falls short of its financial goal, no one is charged. If a project is successfully funded, Kickstarter applies a 5 percent fee to the funds collected.
To find out more about the “Cinderella Spinderella” project or to make a pledge, visit: http://bit.ly/spinderella_kickstarter  or learn more about the project on FaceBook at: http://www.facebook.com/CinderellaSpinderella