Cinderella by Sally Gardner

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Cinderella by Sally Gardner

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Category: For Sharing
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Ruth Ng
Reviewed by Ruth Ng
Summary: A magical and beautifully illustrated retelling of the familiar Cinderella story.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 80 Date: April 2011
Publisher: Orion Children's Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1444002416

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Most little girls must surely know the story of Cinderella by heart. My little girl likes nothing better than putting on her princess dress and parading around the house talking about pumpkins and lost shoes. This version of the familiar story is written specifically for early readers and manages to capture the magic of this wonderful fairy tale. I once got to be Cinderella, in my very last year at school before I left for University (surely just on the verge of being too old!) It is a wonderful, magical story and I never get tired of hearing it and it is, fortunately, my daughter's favourite too so we both sat down eagerly to try out this new retelling by Sally Gardner.

There are no surprises in the telling of the tale. Poor, oppressed Cinderella is bullied and abused by her wicked stepmother and two step sisters. There's a royal ball in order to find the Prince a husband, Cinders isn't allowed to go - cue fairy godmother to wave her magic wand. One addition I liked was the mention of how the stepmother had spoilt both her daughters. We're told their mother was determined that one of her daughters should marry a prince, so they had lessons in talking nicely, walking nicely, and smiling nicely. She gave them whatever they wanted, but nothing made the two sisters any happier or kinder. The more they were given, the meaner and nastier they became. A neat explanation for their behaviour towards poor Cinderella, and a warning to any over indulgent parents out there!

The story progresses as you'd expect, and of course we get the satisfaction of a happily ever after. What marked this out as a good retelling for me were some of the little touches in the writing. The vocabulary is accessible for those who are just gaining confidence with their reading, but it isn't so basic that it loses all the fun. For some reason, thanks to the feel of the text, I found myself slipping into a broad Yorkshire accent when reading the part of the fairy Godmother who says things like oh dear me, tears down such a lovely face! and this royal ball is just the ticket! There's some character there, and it was an enjoyable story to read aloud.

The story is paced beautifully and this is helped, I think, by the sweet illustrations that intersperse the text throughout. There are lots of magical stars splashed around and soft, pastel colours. There's a really sweet moment when the prince sees Cinderella for the first time - the illustration shows Cinderella on one page and the prince facing her, and the accompanying text reads Then a trumpet sounded, Cinderella entered the room...and the prince's heart went BOOM. This was my little girl's favourite page, and after reaching the satisfying ending we went back again to look over this page and discuss the magical moment of falling in love. The images help children to guess some of the words of what's happening on each page, and my daughter has been able to sit and look through the book by herself to retell the story without being able to read the words.

Cynics will hate it, but if you've room for a little romance and magic in your life then cosy up with your daughter (or son if you think he'd stomach the story!) and enjoy the story of a commoner finding true love with a prince that was written long before Kate ever met William!

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

Further reading suggestion: For more fairytale magic try Snow White by Jane Ray or if you want another entertaining early reader book then The Three Little Witches by Georgie Adams and Emily Bolam is a good place to start.

Buy Cinderella by Sally Gardner at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Cinderella by Sally Gardner at

Buy Cinderella by Sally Gardner at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Cinderella by Sally Gardner at


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