Robin Redbreast

Robin Redbreast
Birds can represent the fluttering, darting thoughts of intuition. This is why little birds helped Cinderella help herself.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Cinderella #271 Cinderella Smith (Barden, S.2011)

Cinderella #271 Cinderella Smith (Barden, S.2011)
These are not the kind of
stepsisters that Cinderella Smith has!
Illustration from The Wonder Story Book,
Once upon a time, in Seattle, there lived a girl who was called Cinderella. She lived with her mom, who was "just a regular kind of mom, who is usually nice but kind of strict." The reason she earned her nickname was not "from sleeping by an ashy fireplace in the kitchen, like that other Cinderella", but because of a bad habit, which was losing her shoes. She tells us how she tried to solve this problem: "I had a big AHA! Which means a very, extremely good idea...I pulled out all my shoes and wrote on their bottoms: If found, please return to Cinderella Smith, 410 Blackberry Lane, Seattle, Washington 98105." In fifteen short chapters, each named after a significant pair of shoes, we walk in the footsteps of Cinderella Smith. Jogging alongside are the new girl, Erin; the nice neighbor boy, Charlie; and "the two Rosemary's". They think they are all that and a bag of chips, but actually, they are just a pair of gossiping, mean-spirited girls. In Chapter 5: High-heeled Shoes with Curlicue Toes,  Erin asks for Cinderella's help in figuring out whether her new stepsisters are the wicked kind. Cinderella begins researching the definition of "wicked" by reading her family's Big Book of Fairy Tales, and compiling questions, such as "Do they have big feet?". Then she categorizes her evidence into three categories: For-Sure Wicked, Possibly Wicked and Not Wicked. As the school days go by, the girls' dance class begins rehearsals for the Dance of the Pumpkin Fairy. Cinderella's rivalry with the two Rosemary's heightens. In Chapter 9: Thumbtakced Sneaker, the plot thickens when Cinderella loses one of her beautiful new "shiny, ruby red tap shoes". It is not until after Cinderella goes on to lose a wooden clog and discovers a four legged shoe thief that she finds her tap shoe. By Chapter 12: Big, Old, Brown Ratty Tap Shoes Cinderella has become such good friends with Erin that one day, an invitation arrives for her. "The envelope was really big and thick...Inside the first envelope was another envelope, which was sort of weird". It was an invitation to the wedding of Erin's mom and the father of the new step-daughters! In Chapter 14: Wedges, the grand event takes place. Sleuthing out the yet-to-be-introduced step-sisters, Cinderella and Erin spy "two girls who were just sitting there, sort of looking bored." This, in the middle of a kitchen bustling with caterers, florists, and designers. They had to be the stepsisters! But when Cinderella and Erin confront them, they get a surprise. "We're the caterer's daughters.' One said. 'We're just waiting for her to take us home. " Embarrassed, the girls retreat, and continue observing. That is when they discover that "the box unpacker" and "that girl washing dishes" are Erin's new stepsisters. This evidence is duly noted: They are "not lazy". Chapter 15: Ballet Slippers, features dance teacher Miss Akiyama selecting Cinderella for the role of the Pumpkin Blossom Fairy. Halloween comes and goes, the dance show proceeds, and the wedding takes place. At the story's end, Charlie and the champion basketball team converge with Cinderella, Erin, and the two Rosemary's at the ice cream shop. Over chocolate mint-chip, feelings are smoothed and the friends look forward to another school year. 
From: Cinderella Smith. (Barden, S. & Goode, D.,2011) New York: HarperCollins Children's Books
Notes: I love the feeling of time and place in reading this book. The feel of rainy Seattle, the familiar emotions of kids starting a new school year, the reds and rusts and browns evoked in the Dance of the Pumpkin Blossom. But I have research to do. I bought this book via Better World Books, and it is labeled as withdrawn from the Howard County, MD library. It bears stickers labeling it as "NEW", a barcode tag hand-scribbled over with a pen, and an ominous little three-word tag on the back. CEN, it says. Surely not censored? Because of Halloween? Of second marriages? Disapproval of fairy tales? Who knows? I aim to find out. 

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