Just Ella by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Haddix, Margaret Peterson. Just Ella. Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing, 2001. 240 pages. pap. $5.99. ISBN 978-0-689-83128-7.
Annotation: The well-known fairy tale of Cinderella is revisited with a 15 year old Cinderella realizing that life in the castle with a handsome but uninteresting Prince Charming is not what she expected. Ella relates what really happened when she almost married the prince and what she learned about life and happiness by using her own intelligence and determination.
Summary: In Just Ella, Haddix revisits the famous fairy tale with a 15 year old Cinderella realizing that life in the castle with Prince Charming is not what she expected. In first person, Ella relates what really happened when she nearly married the good looking, but boring prince. Cleverness and fortitude, not a magic wand, clarify the stories behind Ella's ball gown, coach, and glass slippers. Ella clearly describes the changes with her new found royal status, the stifling and lackluster castle life, and her surprising imprisonment once she broke off the royal engagement. Because this is a fairy tale, she does fall in love with her palace tutor, the kindhearted and loyal Jed.
Evaluation: Ella is a strong female character that young girls will find refreshing. Once Ella realizes the difference between the fantasy and the reality of true love, her evolution into a competent, compassionate, and sensible young woman begins. The creative plot twists and witty prose make this coming of age story a delightful read. Recommended for ages 10 to 15.
Genre / Subject: Fiction, Fantasy, Royalty, Romance, Identity, Fairy Tale
Awards: 2000 ALA Best Books for Young Adults, 2000 ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, 1999 American Bookseller Pick of the Lists, 2005 Popular Paperback for Young Adults, 2000 New York Public Library Book for the Teenage