Monday, August 10, 2015

Ranking Cinderella

Over the last, oh, six months or so, I've read a lot of fairy tale retellings. Most of those added to my previously scanty list of Cinderellas. My number of Cinderella retellings (not counting the OUAT one, I forgot about that, or the Cinderella part of the storyline in Into the Woods) now numbers 14. And just for fun, and because I meant to review several but forgot, I'm going to give you my ranking of favorite Cinderellas. Last place was actually easy, but other than that, well, it's like trying to rank your favorite Doctor. They're all different, but yet the same, and yet pretty equally awesome.

14. Just Ella by Margaret Peterson Haddix

I love Margaret Peterson Haddix's dystopians and sci-fis, but I wasn't overly impressed with Just Ella. Maybe it's because most of her girl protagonists are too concerned with having a boyfriend for my taste. And there were three very mildly suggestive sentences (really, it was very mild) that wouldn't cause me to say it wasn't a clean book if it was YA, but, though my old library puts it in the teen section she recommends it for a more middle grade audience, so I would probably take a sharpie to it before handing it to a child. Still, it was an interesting take. What if Prince Charming wasn't actually charming, but really pretty stupid and Ella didn't know it until after becoming engaged?

13. Ella Enchanted (movie)

I saw the movie prior to reading the book, so I can like it. It's a Cinderella story where the fairy godmother gave her the gift of obedience so that if anyone tells her anything she has to obey. Like, Ella, hop on one foot for an hour. She hops. Prince Char was sweet, and will make a good king. And I loved seeing Cary Elwes play an evil uncle. Weird, but strangely enjoyable. Now, the movie is...quite cheesy and the book is way better, but I still enjoyed it. And I liked the emphasis the movie put on freedom. It had a political angle. 'Nough said.

12. CinderEddy by Kendra E. Ardnek

One day when I was sick, I read a bunch of Kendra's short stories I had been keeping on my kindle. Don't ask me why I pull out Kendra's books whenever I get sick. They're fun comfort, I guess. CinderEddy is a gender-bent Cinderella, which means the Cinderella figure is a young man. But instead of a ball, the princess is kidnapped and eligible young men have to try to rescue her to win her hand. It was a quite interesting tale with a great message about helping others. I enjoyed it, but it doesn't nearly take the prize of my favorite Kendra E. Ardnek book. That is reserved for Water Princess, Fire Prince.

11. Cinder by Marissa Meyer

This was a particularly interesting take on Cinderella. Cinderella is a cyborg. This book really made me think about what it would be like to have metal body parts. While I didn't love the worldbuilding, it was certainly interesting. I thought the disease was an interesting extra story element and there was an intriguing political angle. Now, it was rather predictable. I guessed the twist really early. Scarlet and Cress, the next two books in the series, were less predictable. I'm anxiously awaiting Winter, the last book in the series, but I have been warned against the companion book Fairest. The romance in these stories is, how shall we say, superficial. So I'm not overly fond of it, but it's fairly clean, comparable to Hunger Games romance.

10. A Cinder's Tale by Stephanie Ricker

This story is a part of the Rooglewood Press Five Glass Slippers publication, which was a fairy tale retelling contest. This one was a sci-fi. Cinders are people who mine for cendrillon, a substance used in the manufacture of spaceships and like things. It is a very dangerous job. It was incredibly unique, and I enjoyed the space angle and the danger from the climax, even though it wasn't my favorite of the collection.

9. The Moon Master's Ball by Clara Diane Thompson

This was a rather scary version of Cinderella, but I quite liked it. There is a festival that all the people love, but Tilly Higgins hates it and will do anything to avoid it. She had some bad experience with it that is not explained for quite some time, and she has never gotten over it. And then she gets caught up in the festival and the Moon Master. Lots of intrigue and scary similar to OUAT. I wasn't exactly happy with who she ended up with, but I guess that's okay. I enjoyed it anyway. This also is a part of Five Glass Slippers.

8. Cinderella (1950) Disney

I know this isn't technically the original version, but it is to me. This is the basic tale of Cinderella. It is one of the few Disney movies I grew up on (that whole "locked in the vault" thing can be really annoying), and so is special to me because of that. Cinderella is mistreated by her evil stepmother and stepsisters (a huge plus to my Annie loving young self), she has animal friends to help her, and it's a sweet story with a happy ending. Now that I'm older, I find it rather amusing that the king puts the ball together because he wants grandchildren. The mice have plenty of personality, as does the stepmother, but Cinderella and the prince...well, they seem to be a little flat. She's sweet, that's about all there is to her. And the prince is hardly in it. I personally prefer there to be more of the prince, but as childhood memories, this version cannot help but rank fairly well.

7. A Dream Not Imagined by Shantelle Mary Hannu

I hadn't been expecting to be able to read this one, but after helping with some formatting, I volunteered to read it as a review copy. I had heard nothing but good about it, so I had somewhat high expectations. At first, I thought maybe they had been misplaced. It seemed just like any other typical Cinderella story. And then. Things go terribly wrong at the ball. Ellie Abbington's dreams are shattered. But she is told that God is in control, and His way will be a dream not imagined. That's not all. Twists galore follow, but I don't want to give any spoilers. It wasn't exactly what I was expecting, and it thrilled the lifelong love of poor little rich girl, rags to riches, and hard luck stories, as well as the new-found love of sweet, meaningful romance, while having a wonderful, Christian message absent from so many of the stories on this list. 

6. Broken Glass by Emma Clifton

What if the slipper fits, but on the wrong girl? This is something my sisters and I have talked about, and Emma Clifton explores this quite interestingly in Broken Glass. Yes, it's Rosalind's slipper, but she wasn't wearing it. She doesn't want to marry Prince Marius, she's courting his younger brother Henry. And Marius doesn't want to marry her any more than she wants to marry him. So they come up with a plan to get them out of it. Strangely enough, quietly dangerous middle brother Darcy agrees to help. It gets rather twisty after that, and I quite liked the ending. Then the epilogue sets up for a Beauty and the Beast retelling that the author is publishing herself. Interesting, has some action, has some romance, has some intrigue. Well deserving of its place in Five Glass Slippers.

5. What Eyes Can See by Elisabeth Brown

Cinderella doesn't actually want to go to the ball. She doesn't care if she ever meets the prince. What I found particularly interesting about this retelling is that the step family is actually nice. As much as I love the traditional mistreated Cinderella, I found this to be quite refreshing. Much of the focus ends up being put on stepsister Drusilla, who is very kind. Yet, she is not afraid to speak her mind. This story was very sweet, a beautiful romance, and had an unexpected ending. I loved it very much.

4. Waltz Into the Waves by Sarah Holman

Short and sweet, Waltz into the Waves makes one of my favorite Cinderella retellings. It was a beautiful little story, and I'm already eager to read it again. The romance was sweet and clean, and just perfect. Sarah made Cinderella her own, while still remaining faithful to the original. I loved Alex, he was so sweet. About halfway through, I realized I was envisioning Hadley Fraser as he was in the role of Raoul in Phantom of the Opera for Alex. I'm not sure why, but it really brought Alex to life even more, and I loved that. Waltz into the Waves was a delightful little story that I loved.

3. The Windy Side of Care by Rachel Heffington

This one was my favorite of the Five Glass Slippers collection. It was incredibly well written, for one, in a simply delightful old-fashioned style. The characters were so well developed. Alis and Auguste have such distinct personalities. And then there is Rachel's twist on the story. Alisandra looks like the king and queen. The prince does not. And so she is convinced that the throne is hers and not his. She naturally wants it, to displace Auguste, who doesn't actually want the throne at all. But then they fall in love, and, well, they come up with a plan. 

2. Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

My friends were not exaggerating when they said the book was 500% better than the movie. Why did I not read this as a child? I knew about it, but it wasn't until this year, after watching the movie, that I actually went to the library and checked it out. And I loved it! Ella has the same gift of obedience given to her at birth as she does in the movie, but there is little else in common. Well, other than that Hattie is mean and Olive is really stupid and Prince Char is sweet and amazing. Ella meets Char at her mother's funeral, and they become good friends, a friendship that grows over the course of the book. She goes to finishing school, which she hates, tries to get Lucinda to take away her curse, which she won't, is mistreated by her stepmother, goes to the ball...but my favorite parts are the unique parts, yes, the ones with Char, like when they slid down the banister together, or their letters when he is in Ayortha. Ella is a very realistic girl, and a smart thoughtful one. Yes, you could say Ella Enchanted puts obedience in a bad light, but it's more about forced obedience being bad. I love this book. It is one of which I reread parts immediately after finishing.

1. Cinderella (2015) Disney

This Cinderella. Oh my goodness. It is so beautiful and sweet and innocent and heartwarming and amazing and lovely and sad and inspirational. This is the one that induced fangirl squealing. (All blame for that goes to our "honorary sister." :D) It was just so good. Like, I have to grasp at straws to find things I didn't like. Like, there were maybe three costumes that felt a little out of time period, and Helena Bonham Carter's Fairy Godmother wasn't as motherly as the one in the animated movie. It followed basically the same storyline as the animated movie with a few changes, one of which nearly made me cry, but while the animated feature tends to focus more on the animals, the live action focuses more on the people. Ella is so sweet in the face of adversity, yet very human at the same time. Prince Kit was also sweet, sometimes a bit awkward, but in a good way. I loved how she met him before the ball, and how he wanted her to see him as a person, not a prince. And Kit's secret garden! Yes, I was silently freaking out over it. Blame Frances Hodgson Burnett for that. This movie was so well made, and it had a good message of being kind, even to those who are unkind to you. Movies like this are a rarity, and it was like a breath of fresh air. I can't wait for it to come out on DVD. I will certainly be watching it again and again.

Have you read or watched any of these Cinderellas? Any I should add to my list?


  1. Awesome post! I had no idea half of these existed, lol! I still need to see the new 2015 Cinderella... I love the Disney version. I also remember loving Ella Enchanted when I was growing up :)

    1. Thanks! Quite a few of these are from within the homeschool author community, and many of those are fairly new. I wish I'd read Ella Enchanted when I was younger, but late is better than never. The new Cinderella is amazing! It's supposed to come out on DVD and Bluray September 15th. I can hardly wait!

  2. I have read/seen all but 9,7, and 1, though I'm working on rectifying 9. I finally picked the collection back up after I wandered away a year ago. And I wrote #12. *whistles* (No hard feelings about it being so low, it was going up against some pretty good books. Just wait 'til you see my official retelling in Bookania #6 - that one's going to be fun. I'm mixing Shakespeare, Elsie Dinsmore, the Odyssey, and pirates.)

    As I have mentioned, #2 is my favorite version of Cinderella (I was the one tell you how it was 500% better than its movie, after all.) My second favorite Cinderella isn't released yet, but it's SECRET OF THE HAZEL TREE by Kirsten Fitcher. That ones's awesome.

    1. When 1 comes out on DVD, you have to get it. It's more than worth it. (Yeah, it was going up against some great stuff, and, like I said, it was like ranking my favorite Doctors. They're all so equally good, it's like there's barely a fraction of a point between many of them. I'm looking forward to the Bookania version! That sounds quite interesting.)

      I know. You are probably a large reason why I finally actually read it. (Yep, and you were absolutely right.) When's it coming out? If it's better than Ella Enchanted, it has to be good. :)

    2. (Oh, it will be. You've already met the prince in Take, by the by. And Robin gets help play Fairy Godmother.)

      I love EE slightly more than SotHT, but mostly because of fond childhood memories. They're completely different stories, but both well deserving of high praise. I can't wait until Kiri actually publishes it. An Elsie Dinsmore story, and then BOOM! Murder mystery and high drama. It was awesome.

      I probably ought to make my own list like this, because I have four or five other Cinderellas that I love.

  3. I'm so glad you like "Ella Enchanted", both the book and movie (which I like to watch when I need a cheesy movie to make me laugh)!! We have one of Gail's other books if you want to borrow it sometime.....

    1. It's so good! I'd love to read some of her other books, though I have a reading list a million miles long...

  4. And the 2015 Cinderella movie.... Yes!!! Love it, especially the ball. If I ever get married, I hope I can dance that well :)

    1. Absolutely. It's beautiful. And the ball is amazing. :)

  5. I really want to read the collection now! :)
    And Ella Enchanted is probably one of my favorite books still! You should check out the author's other book "The Two Princesses of Bamarre". It's even better, I think. :)
    The 2015 movie!! I admit to silently squealing through the whole thing. My sisters were taking care of the out loud part. lol!!

    1. The collection was really good. :)
      Ella Enchanted immediately jumped onto my favorites list. I ought to read it. I should see if it's at the library.
      Oh my goodness, it was so good! We didn't squeal out loud until we got in the car, but then it was pretty loud. :) It was just so amazing! I'm now really looking forward to the live action Beauty and the Beast.


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