Sunday, July 3, 2011

Happiness is...a good book. (Summer Reading edition #7)

Happy Sunday! Here's round two for today.  Hope you are all enjoying the lovely long weekend.

Cinderella Smith
Author: Stephanie Barden
Illustrator: Diane Goode
Pages: 148
Age Range: 7+
Published: 2011
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Cover Score: ****
Overall Grade: ****
Rating: G

Josephine-Katherine Smith, otherwise known as Cinderella due to her penchant for constantly losing her shoes, is preparing to embark on a new school year full of new adventures. Her neighbor, Charlie Prince, is in the same class and luckily so are all her old friends.  But maybe it isn’t so lucky after all.  The girls seem to have grown up overnight and left Cinderella behind.  Cinderella finds herself being mocked for not having her ears pierced (her mother insists she’s not old enough) and for holding her father’s hand as they walk to school (it’s tradition!) And a kerfuffle in class regarding her name sends them all over the edge.

With hurt feelings, Cinderella ventures into the cafeteria to find that the last seat at the table is now being saved for the new girl, Erin. But Erin surprises them all by choosing to sit with Cinderella. She’s convinced that Cinderella will be able to help her with her problem; the new step-sisters she will acquire when her mom gets married in a few months. She hasn’t met them yet but she’s sure they will be wicked and she doesn't know what to do about it. Cinderella confesses she doesn’t know anything about step-sisters but she is good at giving advice and will do everything she can to help.

The girls become fast friends and help each other navigate all the crazy changes in their lives including the upcoming wedding, Halloween costume craziness, and the mystery of Cinderella’s lost red tap shoe which she needs in order to secure her place as the Pumpkin Blossom Fairy in the autumn dance recital.

Cinderella is a charming character, not quite as spunky or trouble prone as Clementine or Ramona but along the same lines. She’s got a great realistic voice and is constantly throwing out catchy phrases and sighing “Alas” in an exasperated way. And Goode’s black-and-white sketches sprinkled throughout add to the light, comical tone. This is a fun early reader perfect for girls who are just reaching that ‘catty/mean-girl’ stage, reminding them to stay true to themselves and accept everyone quirks and all (it makes life much more interesting and pleasant for all involved!)  

I think I would have loved this when I was a kid.  I devoured all of the Ramona books and then branched into the Baby-sitters Club and such.  I was not a fantasy reader when I was little. I had no patience for magic, much preferring the dramas of 'reality' to the vast and grand battles between good and evil. As an adult I will read just about anything but my return to children's literature was sparked by all of the great fairy tale re-tellings and fantasies out there. (I even wrote my master's paper on the importance of fantasy literature!) So, my childhood tastes did not necessarily foreshadow those of my adulthood. I'm even glad Harry Potter didn't arrive on the scene until I was an adult because I honestly don't think I would have enjoyed them at all. So, I pose to you, dear readers, a series of questions.  What were some of your favorite books as a child? Were any of them instrumental in shaping your future reading choices? What books have you read as an adult that you wish you could go back in time to put in the hands of your younger (child/teen) self? I'd love to hear from you!

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