|Illustration by James Mayhew|
Once upon a time, a little girl named Ella Bella "ran up the stairs of the old theater". She was so excited about taking ballet lessons with Madame Rosa. But when she got inside, she realized that she had dropped one of her ballet slippers. Madame Rosa was the kind of teacher who just shook her head and said,"Don't worry, darling. I have lots of spares." Then she opened a huge trunk, and Ella Bella saw all kinds of pretty shoes inside. While Ella Bella tried shoes on, until she found one that fit, Madame Rosa got an idea. "Let us dance to the Cinderella ballet music!" So she "opened a special music box" and a tune started playing. A tiny ballerina danced inside the box, and all of the children in the class began dancing as well. What fun they had! At last, "the music stopped and the lesson was over." All the kids went to change clothes...except Ella Bella. She just couldn't get the story of Cinderella out of her head...so she opened the box, and the music began to play again. That's when "dancing fairies in different colors surrounded Ella Bella!" One told her that she was a "fairy godmother, and these are the Fairies of the Four Seasons". Then the fairies circled around the little girl chattering. "Poor Cinderella! " said Spring. Summer said that it was sad that everyone but her got to go to the ball. Autumn pointed out that she had no carriage. And Winter sighed, "and no shoes". That's when Ella Bella had a great idea. She opened Madame Rosa's trunk and "took out a pair of silver shoes. 'Will these do?" she asked the fairies. Before she knew it, Ella Bella found herself with the fairies "in the kitchen of a grand house" where Cinderella herself cried by the hearth. When the fairies appeared and waved their wands, her clothes were transformed into a pink silk dress covered with jewels. And when Ella Bella stepped forward and gave her the sliver shoes, Cinderella was so happy. She said, "Oh, thank you! They fit perfectly!" And then "an enchanted carriage" appeared, and carried them all to the palace 'while above them the stars danced in the sky". Of course, when Cinderella walked into the ball, the prince asked her to dance. Ella Bella noticed two angry girls complaining that it wasn't fair that the prince would't dance with them. When the clock began to strike midnight, Ella Bella told Cinderella that it was time to go. They ran, and that is how Cinderella lost a shoe. When the prince found it, Ella Bella told him that she knew where the girl who had lost it lived! She took him to Cinderella's house. Of course, the bossy girls from the ball were there, and they insisted that it was their turn to try it on first. So they did, but their big feet would not go in. "All of a sudden, the matching shoe fell from Cinderella's apron pocket." She put it on, and showed the prince. And then "the fairies flew down and exclaimed,'Well done, Ella Bella! You helped Cinderella find a happy ending!" Joyfully, the prince and Cinderella danced together all evening...and then the music stopped. Ella Bella found herself "all alone on the empty stage". She blinked, and put away Madame Rosa's shoes. Then she hurried out to meet her mother.
From Ella Bella Ballerina and Cinderella by Mayhew, J. (2009) Barron's Educational Series, Inc.
Notes: This is a sweet, easy reader. I like that the pictures show all kinds of children dancing, including boys! In my preschool class, we have dance with Ms. Juana every Friday afternoon. They do free-dance with colored scarves and the most hilarious rendition of Secret Agent that I have ever seen. Everyone tiptoes around, stage-whispering,"Shh! It's a secret!" in a deep voice, freezing when Juana pauses the music. Since I currently have 14 little boys and only 3 girls, the vignette is of small boys dancing joyfully, silky scarves swishing madly...Surely, this is good for their souls?
Montessori Connection: Fine Arts/Ballet/Prokofiev
1. Read Ella Bella Ballerina, and learn that the ballet of Cinderella is a real one.
2. Learn more about that ballet:Prokofiev - Cinderella / Sibley, Dowell, Royal Ballet
3. Learn more about Prokofiev: Prokofiev - Music for Children, Op. 65: edited by Matthew Edwards recorded by Jeffrey Biegel Schirmer Performance Editions or Stories of the Great Composers (Book & CD) (Learning Link) or Meet the Great Composers Book 1 (Learning Link) or Sergei Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf: With a Fully-Orchestrated and Narrated CD