by Gail Carson Levine
Finally, a retelling that explains why Cinderella cheerfully acquiesced to her stepmother! A foolish fairy named Lucinda cursed the poor baby with the trait of obedience. In other words, she’s compelled to follow every single order issued to her, no matter how casually the order is delivered. The main directive of Ella’s fairy godmother (working undercover as the family cook), then, is to help keep the girl’s curse a secret, lest she forever cater to every tiny whim uttered in Ella’s direction. Gail Carson Levine takes the underpinnings of the traditional tale and refreshingly turns them topsy-turvy. Ella and Prince Charmont, heir to the throne, for instance, become good friends, and later fall in love, but Ella’s fear of how her curse could imperil the kingdom makes her deny her feelings and break off their romance. Fans of both strong heroines and princess will come away from this tale equally satisfied.