Thursday, March 12, 2015

Cinder Edna (Ellen Jackson)

Cinder Edna
Ellen Jackson, illustrations by Kevin O'Malley
HerperCollins
Fiction, YA Picture Book
***+ (Okay/Good)


DESCRIPTION: Neighbors Cinderella and Cinder Edna both have cruel stepmothers and stepsisters who make them do all the chores. While beautiful Cinderella kneels in the ashes all night and bemoans her terrible life, plain Edna refuses to give up. Then Prince Randolph announces a grand ball at the palace, inviting all the girls in the land. Can Cinder Edna make her own happily-ever-after without a fairy godmother?

REVIEW: Another slow day at work... This is a fun, timely tweaking of the Cinderella story, with a resourceful and pro-active heroine who doesn't rely on talking mice or fairy godmothers to make her life better. Instead of being helpless, Edna teaches herself new recipes and does odd jobs on the side, making up for a lack of storybook looks with an educated mind and a sharp sense of humor, not to mention a basic practicality that Cinderella lacks: penny loafers are far better dance shoes than glass slippers. I wound up clipping it a half-star for forcing the message a little hard, implying that all people in bad situations have to do is keep their chins up and it'll be golden in the end. No, whining in the ashes doesn't help, but Edna almost seems to have it too easy, brushing off hardships with a smile and a whistle. And, once again, marriage is evidently the key to a woman's validation and fulfillment. (No spoilers, as it's pretty obvious how the story ends, though Edna's future husband isn't quite who one might expect from the outset... and I loved his assessment of the plan to find a mystery woman based on a lost shoe.)
Overall, it's a nice enough story, especially for girls (and their parents) who want a little more out of a heroine than the old-fashioned helpless damsel in distress.

You Might Also Enjoy:
The Paper Bag Princess (Robert N. Munsch) - My Review
Once Upon a Cool Motorcycle Dude (Kevin O'Malley) - My Review
Ever After - A Cinderella Story (Amazon DVD link)

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