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  • Writer's pictureTerrie

Cinderella reimagined

In the 2020 Linz the Bookworm reading challenge, readers are challenged to reread a classic fairy tale and then read a corresponding retelling of that fairy tale. There are LOTS of retellings out there and I've read some in earlier years and really liked them, so I jumped in. I chose Cinderella.

Cinder vs Cinderella book cover art

Cinderella by Charles Perrault

Genre: Children, Classic, Fantasy,

Published 1697, 10 pages

I picked up a book of 11 fairy tales by Perrault, translated from French, at the library. I learned a lot about the history of fairy tales. This collection predated the Grimm Brothers tales published in 1812. He didn't create the tales, but he did write them down from the oral folktale telling of the time. Though the stories were old, Perrault gave the stories a little polish so they could be presented at court. "He recounted them without impatience, without mockery, and without feeling they required any aggrandisement, though he did end each tale with a rhymed moral."

Disney castle photo Christian Wagner via

His telling of Cinderella held no surprises, the story has been told a million times staying fairly true to his writing. She was portrayed as a 'good girl' through and through, polite and doing whatever asked of her and taking all the abuse of her stepmom and stepsisters. (One of the sisters called her "Cinderbutt"!) The opening lines made me smile,

"There was once a man who took for his second wife the most haughty, stuck-up woman you ever saw. She had two daughters of her own, just like her in everything."

I read all 11 fairy tales in the book, a few unfamiliar to me. I was struck over and over by the almost abrupt nature of the storytelling, for example: The prince found her and they were married that day. The End. or: The witch was so frustrated she jumped in the pot and was eaten by the vipers. The End. Like that! No sugar coating or flowery extras - just the facts ma'am. All the way through all the stories. Actually kind of entertaining.

Reading challenge #BooklistQueen #16: reread a childhood favorite; #Bookworm20 #15: read a classic fairytale. You can follow my challenge progress on the Challenges menu button at the top of the page.

Cinder (#1 Lunar) by Marissa Meyer

Genre: YA, Fantasy

Published 2012, 390 pages

I listened to this book and think it is very well presented. Good voicing and pacing and appropriate voice changes.....particularly good voice for teenage Cinder, dripping with sarcasm or uncertainty or bravado - very well done.

I loved the creativity of setting this retelling in an almost dystopian future of New Beijing with Cinder being a cyborg, and a mechanic cyborg at that. There's a charming prince, a budding romance, a pandemic (really? I can't get away from them anywhere!), her "coach" is a gasoline powered car (instead of a hovercraft), there's an evil Queen and a big secret.

Cinder's teen voice feels very real - there's sarcasm and irritation and uncertainty and the phrasing of her dialog is spot on. The prince is also a strong character as he transitions from a young prince to a newly crowned Emperor. The evil step mom is appropriately nasty though we don't really learn much about the step sisters.

“I'm sure I'll feel much more grateful when I find a guy who thinks complex wiring in a girl is a turn-on.”

My issue? I got tired of 'hearing' Cinder's circular thoughts about the Prince being disgusted or not liking her if he found she was cyborg. I was tired of her hand wringing about what to do and the repetitive internal questions. If I'd been reading the book I would have skimmed those pages.

For me, the book gets a 5 on creative plot and exciting developments but a 2 for the whole internal dialog whining/questioning/repetitiveness. That aspect of YA books seems common and, to me, unfortunate. I don't feel like it helps move a story along. Is it a way to 'reach' or 'connect with' teenagers? Do authors think that teen or young adult readers need something explained and repeated endlessly throughout a story? Hmmmm.

Reading challenge: #PopSugar20 #19: set in country starting with "C" & #28: book with robot or cyborg character #bookworm20 #15 & 16: original & retelling of fairytale; #BooklistQueen20 #16: reread a childhood favorite

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