Rainer Maria Rilke

"Live a while in these books, learn from them what seems to you worth learning, but above all love them. This love will be repaid you a thousand and a thousand times, and however your life may turn,-it will, I am certain of it, run through the fabric of your growth as one of the most important threads among all the threads of your experiences, disappointments, and joys."--Rainer Maia Rilke

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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A Classic Story Retold

Cinder and Ella by Melissa Lemon
(Upper Elementary and Above)
Cinder and Ella
If you’ve ever heard the story of Cinderella, then, according to the author, “you have heard it wrong”!  When I read these words in the first few moments of starting the book, I automatically recoiled.  Seriously, do you know how many versions of Cinderella I’ve read?  (I’m not even counting the Disney knock-off versions!)

Dozens, literally.

And yet, I had truly never read a version even remotely like this one!  This version is so fresh and new that it is certainly a version that bears repeating and retelling and reading.  The author has done some very interesting things with the very idea of the Cinderella and I find myself re-evaluating other heroine stories now, looking deeper into the character in ways I hadn’t before.

Truly, I had never really liked the princess stories because I sure ain’t one of those girls!  However, this Cinder-Ella is one I could identify with.  Lemon has taken the dichotomy of subservient princess and free-thinking princess and split them into two very different sisters-Cinder and Ella.  Cinder, the self-sacrificing princess is the one in all the other tales and the one I have the least patience with.  Seriously, scrubbing for stepsisters and wearing glass slippers so some man will rescue me was never on my wish list. 

But Ella, yeah, her I get.  Sassy, stubborn and REAL.  She is the most realistic un-princess I’ve seen.  I especially love how she takes control of her own destiny and future.  Finally, a fairy tale I feel comfortable for my own daughters to read.

There are other elements that resemble the real story but are just different enough to be delightful.  For example, “prince Charming” isn’t either of those two things.  He is a lowly squire and is the clumsiest fellow I’ve seen (I can totally identify).  It is easy to see how love develops between the two main characters.

Perhaps the most charming thing about the book, though, wasn’t the characters or clever similarities but the author’s obvious art of writing.  The prose is almost musical and reads like a long-lost fairy tale with just enough modern wit and slang thrown in to connect with young readers.    Funny, witty, poetic and real—definitely not your average fairy tell.

Overall, a welcome addition to the retellings genre.
Some links, for your interest:
Melissa Lemon's Blog Tour
Melissa's Facebook Fan Page
Melissa Lemon on Twitter
Melissa Lemon's Author Blog
Melissa Lemon's Author Page on Good Reads

1 comment:

  1. Excellent review! Can't wait to get my hands on this book!
    ~Darla Jardine