Monday, July 15, 2019

Review - Cinderella

by Sarah L. Thomson
illustrated by Nicoletta Ceccoli
Date: 2012
Publisher: Two Lions
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 32
Format: e-book

Once upon a time, a rich merchant lived with his daughter. He loved the girl for her beautiful face and her sweet heart. But after his wife died, he decided to marry a second time, and his new wife was selfish and cruel. She had two daughters of her own who were just like her....

This story of Cinderella is based on the version collected and published by the seventeenth-century author Charles Perrault. Perrault’s Cinderella echoes the elegance and luxury of the French court of King Louis XIV, and it’s from his version that we get Cinderella’s famous glass slippers. Sarah L. Thomson’s beautiful retelling of the classic fairy tale is matched with the uniquely stunning artwork of Nicoletta Ceccoli rendered in acrylics on paper and digitally. This is a picture book to treasure.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

I found this picture book in my Kindle account and realized I'd never reviewed it. I barely remembered it from when I read it years ago, either... for a good reason. It's a pretty unmemorable retelling of the classic tale.

Thomson really doesn't bring anything new to the story. It's the same old tale about a girl abused by her stepmother and stepsisters, her meetings with a magical fairy godmother and a handsome prince, and a marriage. Unfortunately, in the picture-book format, there's not much time for character development, and the author here relies too much on telling rather than showing. Why should we care about Cinderella? Because she's supposedly kind. We're not shown how she's kind, however, so the whole thing falls a little flat.

And, speaking of flat, I have to mention the illustrations. I happen to love Ceccoli's work. Just not here. Her figures have a blank sort of stare that makes them look like dolls. While that may work for art prints, it doesn't work that great for story illustrations since these characters don't convey any emotion with their facial expressions. They don't really have facial expressions, which is part of the problem. I also found the rest of the scenes kind of bland. Ceccoli often uses whimsical imagery that can sometimes border on the unsettling, but for a children's book, she likely reined that in. Unfortunately, the illustrations we're left with, while pretty, are uninspiring and forgettable.

At this point, when I read a fairy tale retelling, I want to see more than just the standard story with the happy-ever-after and requisite marriage. This story seems kind of dated as a result of sticking to the traditional plot, and it doesn't resonate with me. For a far more unique picture-book retelling of the "Cinderella" story, check out Interstellar Cinderella by Deborah Underwood.

Premise: 2/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 3/5
Illustrations: 3/5
Originality: 2/5

Enjoyment: 2/5

Overall: 2.33 out of 5

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