Book Review: Cinder Edna

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In this twist to the traditional fairy tale Cinderella, Cinder Edna finds true love thanks to her positive attitude and resourcefulness.

Author: Ellen Jackson. Illustrator: Kevin O’Malley
Age Level: 4-8 years
Publishers: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Books
ISBN: 9780688162955

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I like Cinderella and think there is a place for her in my children’s library. But every now and then I do get tired of the beautiful princess plot. My mother heard my complaints and gave us a book about her neighbour Cinder Edna, a contemporary fairy tale based on Cinderella.

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Cinder Edna is also an orphan living with her wicked stepmother and two ugly sisters. In fact, she lives right next door to Cinderella. She too is made to do all the work while her stepsisters laze about. She too is left behind the night of the ball.

Cinderella gets to the ball, looking beautiful thanks to her fairy godmother. Cinder Edna, not daunted at being left behind takes matters into her own hands. She buys a dress set aside in layaway using money that she earned by mowing neighbours’ lawns and cleaning parrot cages. She completes her outfit with comfortable shoes and takes the bus!

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At the ball, both girls meet the man of their dreams. Prince Randolph, the crown prince, asks Cinderella to dance but alas! She is afraid of breaking her dainty glass slippers. Prince Rupert, Randolph’s younger brother, introduces himself reminding everyone to recycle plastic! Cinder Edna hands her cup over and they start to talk. Time flies as they dance and share jokes and the clock strikes midnight.

Cinderella runs out leaving behind the glass slipper because she doesn’t want anyone to find out who she is while Cinder Edna runs because the last bus leaves at midnight. It was like a light bulb went on for my kids. “Yeah, but why didn’t Cinderella take the bus too, amma?”

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The two princes couldn’t have a more different approach to finding their lady love. My kids thought that it wasn’t too bright of Prince Randolph not to have asked for Cinderella’s name after dancing with her! I loved that Rupert looked up the telephone directory!!!

It seems like the book was written in response to an overdose of the beautiful, dainty and frail woman. I liked the emphasis on Cinder Edna’s attitude, but there is a judgmental tone about Cinderella. It was a bit confusing for the kids since they are still at the age where being a princess or prince is a big deal. Maybe when they are a little older, they may get the message in the book.

Some of the words were difficult for my kids to understand—like layaway and 16 kinds of tuna casserole. I told them it was like making different types of dosa 😉 but with tuna fish.

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