Saturday, January 19, 2013

Ella's big chance : A fairy tale retold by Shirley Hughes

Yesterday I was looking for some longer picture books to show the teachers in my school.  I came across Ella's big chance.  I seem to have been hearing a lot about Shirley Hughes lately. She has written a novel called Hero on a bicycle which will arrive in my school soon.

Ella lives with her dad.  He is a tailor and they have a happy life until one day he remarries. His new wife is cruel and she has two very nasty daughters.  Have you guessed which fairy tale is retold here?

Here is a review that sums this book up perfectly :

From School Library Journal Starred Review. 

Is there room for one more "Cinderella" variant in your collection? The answer is yes if it's this charming version set in the 1920s. Ella Cinders, her father, and Buttons the doorman/delivery boy run a dress shop until the terrible day when Mr. Cinders remarries and his nasty new wife moves in with her equally nasty daughters, Ruby and Pearl. "His new wife seemed to pop up from nowhere like a sharp-eyed, expensively dressed jack-in-the box." Ella's life is misery from then on, mitigated only by the care and attention of the faithful Buttons. Her Fairy Godmother sends her off to the ball where the Duke of Arc is smitten with her, but in the end Ella chooses a different happily ever after ....
Hughes's gouache-and-pen-line illustrations exhibit her usual meticulous attention to detail, with the ball scenes inspired by Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers movies, and the original dress designs by important French couturiers of the period. This insightful retelling also offers a fascinating visual peek at a glamorous time. 
-Grace Oliff, Ann Blanche Smith School, Hillsdale, NJ
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