July 5, 2012

Ella Enchanted

ELLA ENCHANTED by Gail Carson Levine (Harper Collins, 1997)
GENRE: Fantasy
HONORS: Newbery Honor, ALA Notable Children’s Book, ALA Best Book for Young Adults, ALA Booklist Editors’ Choice, Publisher’s Weekly Best Book

REVIEW: When Ella of Frell is born, the fairy Lucinda bestows a gift upon her – the gift of obedience – which turns out to be a terrible curse. As a result, Ella must find ways to assert herself despite the constant threat of obedience (if someone told her to cut off her head, she would have to). Ella’s naturally independent nature grows stronger with every challenge, despite, or perhaps because of, the curse. A clever, genuinely funny adaptation on the Cinderella tale, Ella Enchanted is the story of a cursed girl who becomes a woman capable of saving herself.

OPINION: This is a wonderful book for reluctant YA and tween readers – especially girls. The story is just recognizable enough to feel familiar to anyone who has heard Cinderella, but it deviates substantially from the classic girl-as-victim plot, giving the reader a spunky, empowering heroine she can relate to. The humor, romantic elements, and first-person narrative make it a truly accessible, pleasant read.

IDEAS: Would be a great edition to a themed book club (fantasy or fairy tale adaptations in particular, which are popular right now). 

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