Of course you know the story of Cinderella, but you've never heard it told like first-time novelist Barbara Ensor's chatty, witty version. She bases this Cinderella on Frenchman Charles Perrault's 1697 tale, but enlivens it with a modern setting and lingo. For instance, while the ugly stepsisters ("the truth is, they were nice enough to look at") whine about moving into a new home ("what a dump") and their "weirdo" new sibling, Cinderella finds that . . . "to be honest, and don't repeat this to anyone, they seem a little stuck up."
Throughout this fractured fairy tale, Ensor interjects heartfelt letters written by Cinderella to her deceased mother. In them, Cinderella reveals her grief, meekness and instant attraction to a prince she meets at a ball one evening. The author also continues Cinderella's saga beyond its traditional ending. Sure, Cinderella and the prince have a whirlwind romance, but it is only after marriage that they realize that they possess many differences and that love can grow between them. With this love comes self-confidence, the key to changing the world and living happily ever after.
Ensor not only pens this Cinderella tale, but skillfully illustrates it with cut-paper silhouettes. Like the story itself, they blend 18th-century images with more modern, abstract figures. For anyone interested in Cinderella stories, Ensor concludes with brief descriptions of similar tales from China, Denmark, Zimbabwe and other cultures.
Grown-ups will appreciate the humor in Ensor's yarn. The root of many chuckles is the prince, who, with a rock star-like ego, requests no yellow sprinkles on his desserts and can't help but admire himself in his armor. No saccharine Disney character, this mature Cinderella is to be enjoyed and even admired as a young woman who takes control of her destiny, but still believes in a little magic. Copyright 2006 BookPage Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2006 Fall
"Cinderella was about your age when this whole thing started, a really nice girl. I'm sure the two of you would have liked each other." Illustrated with striking silhouettes, this colloquial, novella-length retelling adheres to the familiar outline of the tale while adding a few wry twists, such as the prince assuming Cinderella is "well-to-do" and lives in a gated community. Copyright 2006 Horn Book Guide Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2006 May #1
A fun modern spin on Cinderella, told by a sassy narrator, that delivers an insider's scoop on this familiar tale. Beyond modern-day touches, like mascara and foot-reduction surgery, this retelling departs from the traditional tale by sparing Cinderella's father and by providing an intimate window into Cinderella's thoughts, which is partially achieved through her letters to her deceased mother. Besides reporting on her evil stepsisters, Cinderella's letters, written in loopy teenage penmanship, also expose her raw grief and briefly explore her feelings for the prince. These candid glimpses and Cinderella's thoughts provide a fresh version of Cinderella to which readers can relate on a realistic level. The witty text pairs effectively with numerous black-and-white paper-over-board illustrations, which are laid out in a way that divides the text into manageable chunks, making this tale suitable for reluctant readers ready for a more mature, spunky and updated Cinderella. (afterword) (Fiction. 8-10) Copyright Kirkus 2006 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.
Library Media Connection - October 2006
This is a light retelling of the Cinderella story. Characters are not fully developed, but the plot moves quickly and the narrator uses contemporary, descriptive language to make it fun. Through letters to her dead mother, the reader can see why Cinderella allows herself to become a servant in her father's home, and later how she views her life and makes her decisions. When she ultimately marries the prince, they discover they are very different. He writes poetry, and Queen Cinderella becomes a peacemaking diplomat and a powerful environmentalist. As a huge fan of the story, I enjoyed this version, but its appeal would be limited. Additional Selection. Anne Hanson, Library Media Specialist, Hoover Elementary, North Mankato, Minnesota © 2006 Linworth Publishing, Inc.
Publishers Weekly Annex Reviews
Ensor gives readers yet another twist on the Cinderella tale, but this contemporary paper-over-board version is a bit too economical on plot and description. Within a week of her father's remarriage, Cinderella's new stepmother redecorates the house and moves Cinderella up to the attic ("My girls' furniture could not possibly fit up there," the woman says). As the heroine's father spends more time away from the house, his wife gives Cinderella more chores to do. One day, an invitation to the prince's ball arrives, and Cinderella tells her stepsisters that she does not plan to attend ("I don't have the right clothes"). Yet, once the girls leave, Cinderella's fairy godmother appears and, well, you know the rest: she gets a makeover and a once-in-a-lifetime chance to attend the ball. The "Happily Ever After" ending comes with a bit of a New Age-spin: the Prince, now King, spends his days singing "songs about his soppiest, saddest most heartfelt feelings," while Queen Cinderella becomes the best diplomat in the history of the kingdom. The royal couple moves into a modest home and turns the palace into an animal hospital with Cinderella's stepmother and stepsisters as caretakers. Minimalist black & white illustrations contribute to the retelling's modern feel, while the heroine's handwritten letters to her deceased mother offer insight into her thoughts. The combination of the two provides a distinction to this rather bland retelling. Ages 7-10. (June)
School Library Journal Reviews 2006 July
Gr 3-6 -This lightweight retelling of the classic fairy tale will please girls who like undemanding and familiar stories with a twist. In this version, Cinderella writes letters to her dead mama complaining about her evil stepmother and attractive but mean-spirited older stepsisters. She spends her days cleaning, cooking, sewing, and generally feeling miserable and put-upon even though she tries to be nice and accommodating. Readers know how it all ends, and Ensor recounts it dutifully, but adds what happens after the curtain traditionally falls on the story. The two work hard on their marriage, since they barely know one another, and eventually the prince becomes a king and a singer while Cinderella finds the other side of herself-as a talented diplomat fully capable of improving their country and the world all around them. Black-and-white silhouettes are positioned throughout the text but don't add much to the story.-Susan Riley, Mount Kisco Public Library, NY[Page 101]. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.