Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Have Courage & Be Kind {Celebrating Cinderella}

Remember how I mentioned recently that I am a lover of fairytales? Well, I mean that in a big way. Nothing captures my heart more than a classic tale of a princess and the triumph over evil forces. Sometime long, long ago, I drank the Disney juice, and I haven't been able to get enough of the fairytale culture since.

Us Disney superfans have something to celebrate this weekend: the arrival of the new Cinderella, starring Lily James and Richard Madden (hello, Robb Stark, you're looking well) as the handsome prince. The moment we first heard the announcement, I seriously considered buying a plane ticket to Chicago to celebrate the occasion with my equally-fairytale-obsessed besties, Allie & Sam.

You can watch the trailer below:

Simply magical, right??

I did quite a bit of reading about the origins of our favorite fairytales last summer for my honors project this year, and I love how the original tales (which came from oral traditions) have inspired and informed so much writing. I thought a booklist was in order, one that celebrates the original tale of Cinderella and the many, many works that it's inspired since its publication back in the 17th century. 

Normally, when I curate a booklist, I stick to one main audience. Since fairytales are something that readers of all ages can enjoy, I thought I'd mix it up and include a few books for readers from preschool all the way through young adulthood. I know quite a few adults who really enjoy these kinds of stories from the YA genre, so if you're a little older than the target audience (like me), don't be afraid to dive in!

For Young Readers (Preschool & Elementary):

Glass Slipper, Gold Sandal by Paul Fleischman // A collection of Cinderella traditions from around the globe. This book weaves together the unique tales from places as different as Zimbabwe and Ireland into a story that demonstrates the universality of the fairytale. For parents who want to share a more worldly view with their children!

Cinder Edna by Ellen Jackson // A quirky fracturing of the original tale. Cinder Edna (Cinderella's neighbor) isn't lucky enough to be rescued by a godmother and a handsome prince, but she perseveres due to her own resilience and go-getter attitude. This one's for families who aren't fans of the "damsel in distress" formula. A feminist and funny take. 

Cinderella by Barbara McClintock // A classic retelling with an added Parisian element and gorgeous, detailed illustrations. For fans of the original. 

Cinderella Skeleton by Robert D. San Souci // A childhood favorite of mine. A rather Tim Burton-esque fracture, with the same uplifting message: that kindness and virtue conquer all. Definitely one to add to your Halloween collection too! 

Seriously, Cinderella is So Annoying! by Trisha Speed Shaskan // A fractured version, from the perspective of the wicked stepmother. A great opportunity for discussions about the fact that there are always two sides to every story.

Cinderella Stays Late by Joan Holub // The first in a series that takes place in Grimmlandia, this story sets Cinderella as a new girl at Grimm Academy. Her evil stepsisters tease & embarass her, but she ends up as the hero in the end. A great lesson on girl power & treating others well!

Cinderella at the Ball by Margaret Hillert // For beginning readers (ages 6+), this is a great retelling for independent reading!

Cinderella Stories Around the World by Cari Meister // Another collection of Cinderella versions from many different cultures. I love the illustration style of this one!

For Middle Grade Readers & Young Adults:

{Psst! Parents: it's up to you to make a judgment call when it comes to these categories! Some of these books are recommended for grades 7 and above. Personally, I know many middle-graders that are mature enough to read books way above their level, but if there's a question of appropriateness, I suggest checking out the recommended reading level first!}

Mechanica by Betsy Cornwell // A Kindle-only book that's set to be published in August, this unique retelling has been on my watch-list since January. In this, Cinderella is cast as a wildly talented inventor. For those who like the damsel-saves-herself type!

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine // A classic and perfect choice for girls' bookclubs! In this, Ella is fierce and fights against her curse of obedience, and instead of being rescued, it is she who rescues the prince.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer // A very unique take on the classical tale, with a Cinderella who's actually a cyborg, and a science-fiction future in which earth is in really, really big trouble. 

Princess of Glass by Jessica Day George // A royal exchange program, a competition between a servant & princess for an eligible prince, and a fan base that loves this author's retellings (this is the second in her fairytale series). Definitely worth checking out!

Bound by Donna Jo Napoli // When I stumbled upon this retelling, I let out an "Ooooh." Now this looks like a fresh take to me. Take the story of Cinderella and mold Chinese culture around it. Xing Xing is bound as a servant to her stepmother and sister, whose feet are bound and whom Xing Xing must take care of. Throw in money troubles and a desperate search for a husband, and you have a new perspective that maintains the core values. 

The Masked Slipper by Jessica Lorene // A setting in which the characters are aware that they're living in a fairytale? I'll take it. Nicolette is being forced to marry a not-so-prince-charming, and she's realized that somewhere along the line, her fairytale went awry.

There are so many amazing versions of this tale in picture-book and novel form, I could probably add forty more to this list and it would still barely make a dent in the number of available versions out there! I saw ones from every culture, every time period, and some great fractured perspectives as well! I could curate a whole library full of these books. Did one catch your eye? Do you have one to add to the list? Share your thoughts below!

Happy Reading!


  1. Great list! Mechanica is actually going to be out in hardcover as well, and will be stocked at most local bookstores in the US. Thanks for including it!

    1. Hi Betsy! Thanks for the correction, I will make sure to edit that & link to the hardcover as well! I'll be looking for a hardcover for my shelf, as I love the cover design. Really looking forward to it reading it later this summer, and thanks for stopping by Top Shelf Text!