Reviews for Gospel Cinderella
Booklist Monthly Selections - #2 February 2004
PreS-Gr. 2. The familiar tale is transformed once more, this time given a swamp location and a gospel sensibility. Queen Mother Rhythm has a beautiful baby daughter, but a hurricane sweeps the baby downstream in a basket. The baby is taken in by Cruel Crooked Foster Mother, who, along with her two daughters, makes Cinderella's life miserable. Thomas adds some unusual reshaping to the familiar pattern. Instead of a ball, there's the Great Gospel Convention; instead of a prince looking for a mysterious girl, it's Queen Mother Rhythm trying to find the amazing singer who was auditioning as her successor; and instead of a shoe that fits, it's a song. For a story centered on the exuberance of gospel music, the text is oddly lacking in energy. Still, there's certain freshness in having the women in the forefront (the prince is a minor character), though the appellation "Crooked Foster Mother" seems a shame. Diaz's art is more representational than some of his previous work. Richly colored, with paint applied so thickly it looks like velvet, the pictures infuse humor into the story and give it a lift. ((Reviewed February 15, 2004)) Copyright 2004 Booklist Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2004 Fall
Queen Mother Rhythm, leader of the Great Gospel Choir, loses her baby daughter during a hurricane. Found by Crooked Foster Mother and named Cinderella, the baby grows up and eventually finds her mother--and a handsome prince--at the Great Gospel Convention. Brilliantly colored illustrations accompany the wordy, less-than-magical tale. Copyright 2004 Horn Book Guide Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2004 April #2
Those who love reading tales with Cinderella motifs will no doubt want to have this one, however disappointing it might be. Set in a southern swamp, the story revolves around the competition for a place in a gospel choir rather than marriage to a prince. Queen Mother Rhythm loses her infant daughter during a hurricane. Rescued by "Crooked Foster Mother" (a poor choice of names), she lives the typical Cinderella life with the mean twin sisters, Hennie and Minnie, and their mother. She can sing; they cannot. Then they learn that Queen Mother Rhythm is about to retire and she needs someone to take her place as lead singer. The ending is predictable and follows the basic folkloric story structure. But Thomas's telling, despite moments of soulful jive, mostly clumps along without charm. Diaz's use of rich bold colors of purples, pinks, and leafy greens in strikingly patterned illustrations is spirited and beautiful, but is not enough to redeem the lackluster text. (Picture book. 5-9) Copyright Kirkus 2004 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2004 May #4
Thomas (Brown Honey in Broomwheat Tea) puts a Southern spin on a well-known fairy tale for a charismatic adaptation set in the swamp. When a hurricane sweeps Queen Mother Rhythm's baby downstream, Crooked Foster Mother finds the mud-covered infant, names her Cinderella ("seein' how you're as dirty as a cinder pile") and brings her home to be a servant. In Thomas's inspired version, a Great Gospel Convention is held instead of a ball, as Queen Mother Rhythm (along with the Prince of Music, her pianist) searches for a successor to lead the Great Gospel Choir. After Crooked Foster Mother's evil twins depart for the audition, Cinderella evades the crocodiles, plucking wildflowers to affix to her simple dress and braiding vines for a belt. So disguised, the heroine sneaks into the convention, and "with a voice as sweet as licorice," she wins the day and finds her mother (but not before the Prince of Music searches for the mystery soloist). Diaz's (Smoky Night) stylized illustrations capture the emotion and the humor of the tale. Bright golden marsh flowers radiate in the chocolatey-brown hair of the African-American characters, while sky-blue backdrops and purple royal robes add a vibrant contrast to the lush green setting. This unique twist on a classic subtly emphasizes the roots of gospel music, as a respite from hardship and sorrow. Lyrics curling out of mother and daughter's mouths and winding around the page declare that song is "Easing my pain/ And lifting me up." Ages 5-10. (May) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal Reviews 2004 May
PreS-Gr 3-Numerous "Cinderella" variants abound, including John L. Steptoe's Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters (HarperCollins, 1987), and Robert San Souci's Cendrillon: A Caribbean Cinderella (S & S, 1998), but none so distinctly African American as in this version, which draws on the gospel music tradition. Set in a southern swamp, it has the usual elements of a poor, persecuted young girl and mean stepmother and stepsisters. But instead of a prince looking for his princess, a mother, Queen Rhythm, looks for a Daughter of Rhythm to take her place in the Great Gospel Choir. A convention is held to find that one special voice. The prince here is the choir's piano-playing Prince of Music. Cinderella, of course, turns out to be the long-lost daughter of Queen Rhythm. She is finally located through a house-to-house search, and takes her rightful place in the choir beside her mother, accompanied by the prince on the piano. Diaz's double-page acrylics fill the spreads with humorous, bold, and colorful images. A delightful universal tale with an added musical twist.-Mary N. Oluonye, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.