Fleischman, P., & Paschkis, J. (illustrator). (2007). Glass Slipper, Gold Sandal: A Worldwide Cinderella. New York: Henry Holt and Company.
In this retelling of Cinderella, we see how the story is told around the world. From Mexico to Ireland to Germany to Iran to India to China to Zimbabwe and more.
The story progresses in the usual format: evil stepmother, Cinderella forced to work, the ball, the missing shoe, happily ever after. From page to page, however, we hear how the same story is told differently throughout the world.
Paschkis’ stunning illustrations are bright and captivating. Each page has the central image that tells the story. But then the margins and background space is illustrated with images evoking the country of origin, which is listed in the bottom corner of the page.
This is an exciting and beautiful interpretation of a classic story that introduces multi-culturalism and can be an educational experience for young readers, especially those familiar with the classic story. Overall, I give this book a 5 out of 5!
Gidwitz, A. (2010). A Tale Dark & Grimm. New York: Dutton Children’s Books.
This novel retells the classic tale of Hansel and Gretel, but goes beyond the well-known story of two children getting caught in a witch’s candy house. The story begins before Hansel and Gretel’s birth and explains why they were wandering in the woods and what happens after the Witch falls into the fire.
The title is not ironic. This tale is dark and grim. It is gory and scary, and at times, disturbing. And, as an adult reader, I loved it. But this is definitely not a book for young children.
The narrator continuously jumps into the story, warning children of the scary or gross parts, which does prepare them mentally, but also serves as a bit of a dare, asking readers if they can really handle what they’re about to read.
This book is not for the faint of heart, but older children who enjoy fairy tales and spooky stories will likely love this book. And, as a bonus, there are two other books in the series, one about Rumpelstiltskin and the other about Jack & Jill.
Overall, I give this book a 4.5 out of 5, but I also give it a strong reader’s advisory statement: this book is definitely for older children, maybe even young adult readers.
Baron, D., Kinberg, S., & Shearmur, A. (producers) & Branagh, K. (director). (2015). Cinderella [motion picture]. United States: Walt Disney Pictures.
In this remake of the classic tale, a kind and courageous Cinderella overcomes the cruelty of her stepmother to attend the prince’s ball.
This film is magnificent. The story is true to the original 1950 Disney movie, yet has an added complexity, contemporary interpretation, and a sense of humour. Cinderella is not merely a maiden in distress, the stepmother is not inexplicably wicked, and the prince faces a dilemma between country and love.
Beyond the storyline, the visual aspects of this film are breathtaking. The costumes are opulent and stunning. The scenery is alluring. The special affects are impressive.
Viewers young and old will enjoy this classic story retold. It is fresh and, to be frank, lovely. This film is a solid 5 out of 5.
Flinn, A. (2007). Beastly. New York, NY: HarperTeen.
In this re-telling of the classic fairy tale Beauty and the Beast, Alex Flinn tells the story from the point of view of the Beast, set in 21st century New York City. Flinn masterfully crafts and develops the story in a unique way, drawing readers in with well-crafted characters.
While some fairy tale retellings take place in the usual “once upon a time” land, Beastly, set in a familiar and well-known location, brings the magic to our world. The story is similar enough to the original story– well, to the Disney movie– yet is different enough to be a fresh take on a tale as old as time.
Beastly would appeal to anyone interested in fairy tales, but also to a general readership. Some people may say the audience is stereotypically female, but the male protagonist and action may also interest male readers.
There are no obvious or apparent weaknesses to Flinn’s book. I finished it in a day; it’s one of those books you can’t put down.
This book is definitely a 5. It is a great rendering that is captivating and enchanting while still chillingly realistic.