Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Cinder and Ella by Melissa Lemon

After their father’s disappearance, Cinder leaves home for a servant job at the castle. But it isn’t long before her sister Ella is brought to the castle herself—the most dangerous place in all the kingdom for both her and Cinder. Cinder and Ella is a Cinderella story like no other and one you'll never forget.

My thoughts:
This is the first book I have read on NetGalley.  I signed up for access to Net Galley back in March and then things got busy with work and my family and I never got around to reading anything.  I always read about other bloggers using it and really wanted to give it a try.  It was fun!  I find myself more and more wanting to buy a Kindle.  Honestly i can see myself giving in pretty soon, because it would have been so much nicer to read the book on an electronic device rather than the computer screen.

Cinder and Ella is the first book I've read by Melissa Lemon.  While it was classified as children's in the genre description, I do not think I would be comfortable with my own children reading this quite yet.  Young adult seems a more appropriate classification.  Characters declaring their love for one another was fine with me and sharing a kiss or two, but there was a male character who seemed to be lusting after the girls  a bit too much for my idea of a book for children.

In this version of the story there is no wicked step mother or step sisters.  There is a family with four girls and a mother and father.  The father disappears after a visit from the prince and the mother falls into despair.  The youngest daughter starts to act like a baby all the time and the oldest gets very self-centered and selfish.  The middle two are Cinder, so named because her hair is grey like cinders in a fire, and Ella who looks the most like the lost father.  Cinder is very, very good and helps out enormously at home.  She cares for them all and puts herself last.  Ella resents the way things are but still helps Cinder with some chores and things unlike the other two.  The mother has reached a point where she spins yarn all day, every day and does not participate with her daughters at all.  When Cinder gets a job at the castle, Ella tries to take up the slack but finds that her mother does not even seem to know her anymore and thinks she has three daughters, one of whom is named Cinderella.  Ella goes out on her own but eventually ends up in danger with her sister at the castle.

When I started this book I thought it was going to be a retelling of the Cinderella story.  I was curious since I had just read the nonfiction book, "Cinderella Ate My Daughter" by Peggy Orenstein which looked at the ways in which the current princess culture is affecting girls.  While this book did use some elements of the story I am familiar with (I know there are many different versions, but the one I know the best is of course the Disney version) a lot of it was quite different.  I would say though that it was different in a good way.  The changes and branching out kept it new and unexpected.  The parts involving magical areas reminded me of Joy Prebles's "Haunted" and "Dreaming Anastasia".  I don't want to reveal too much but I liked the way the trees were used in the story.

At the end of the story things are well wrapped up reminding me of the endings of fairy tales, although there is still evil lurking out and about so I guess there could be a sequel at some point in the future.  There was a very inspirational line about the evil in the book.  One of the characters is asking how to combat evil and is told, "Plant seeds, My Dear.  Plant good seeds, and maybe someday, if there is enough good in the world, we will be able to overcome him."  It reminds me of paying it forward and how if we all work each day to make things just a bit nicer for those around us that maybe we really will reap what we sow.

Book Details:
Pub Date: 11/08/2011

ISBN: 9781599559063
Genre: Children's, Literature & Fiction, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Teens & YA

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