Monday, September 28, 2015

Ella's Big Chance

by Shirley Hughes
48 pages / 2003

Shirley Hughes' unique spin on the story of Cinderella is so very good it improves on the original. Some of that is due to Hughes artwork, and the setting: this is a "Jazz-Age Cinderella" pushing the story forward to the 1920s. Ella and her father run an elegant dress shop, making the finest of clothes. The evil stepmother in this case has some business acumen, and turns the small shop into an even bigger success. But the greater the demand, the more work there is to do for poor Ella.

The story follows along the familiar course of many an other Cinderella version, but with pictures all the more stunning, and a twist at the end in which (SPOILER ALERT!) the love-at-first-sight duke finds his Ella, but doesn't get the girl! This is really what sets this version apart and above - none of this nonsense about knowing someone for an evening and then getting married when next you meet again. Nope, Ella ends up with the store's delivery boy, who has always been there for her, and wanted to be so evermore.

While Hughes artwork is wonderful, the prose is superb as well. It flows so very naturally that, as I read this out loud to my girls, I felt as if I was one of those professional readers. I sounded good! But that is all to Hughes' credit, and not my own - there is a wonderful flow to each page of text.

I will add one caution: there is one use made of the term "good heavens," which some view as a substitute oath, and too much like a real blasphemy for their liking. Though I don't agree, I do sympathize, and want to alert readers to its use.

I would give this two very enthusiastic thumbs up, and recommend it highly to anyone who has three- to ten-year-olds. Oh, and this is probably far more a girl book than boy (though I have to say I really liked it too, and I am a boy).

You can buy a copy at by clicking here.

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