Retold by Max Eilenberg
Illustrated by Niamh Sharkey
Walker Books, 2008
I like to browse the discount tables at my neighborhood bookstore. When I saw the simple illustration of Cinderella on the cover of this book, I had to take a look. As I flipped through the book I found myself enjoying the gentle illustrations of Niamh Sharkey. They're child-like (which you want in a child's book) but somehow I found them joyful and fun at the same time.
Yet however beautiful the illustrations, you have to wonder to yourself why we need yet another version of Cinderella, a classic story that has been told and re-told for hundreds of years. The answer to that is that we need this version for the adults.
This version gently fills in missing details that most children won't realize are missing. For example, if you've ever read Cinderella, have you wondered where her father went? After all, the step-mother could only be mean in the absence of the father, so what did happen to him? Another detail that most versions gloss over is the fairy godmother's rather odd request for a pumpkin. If a woman appeared out of thin air, told you that you were going to a ball, and said you should bring her a pumpkin, wouldn't that surprise you the tiniest bit? It would surprise me and in this version, In this edition, Cinderella is a bit confused by the request, too.
The little additions here are so slight and subtle that a child who knows and loves Cinderella likely will not notice the tiny differences, yet an adult will be left quietly chuckling to himself. I can't say that, as a full grown adult, I ever expected to enjoy Cinderella for its own sake but this book surprised me. It's true to the story you already know, but it's just slightly silly and that makes it even better.