Friday, August 12, 2011

Ella Enchanted

A review featuring Bit (Bibliophile in Training), age 7

Cinderella has never been one of my favorite fairy tales. The main character is just too passive. Then I took my children's literature course for my degree and discovered Ella Enchanted and fell in love. It remains to this day my favorite fairy tale retelling, containing one of my favorite literary couples of all time. I loved it so much I made my AG students read it every year during our supplemental reading instruction time. I still haven't gotten over what they did to it when they turned it into a movie. WHATEVER YOU DO, DON"T SEE THE MOVIE. I have been waiting to introduce it to Bit with much anticipation.

The Story
Ella was "gifted" at birth by the fairy Lucinda with obedience. Ella is compelled to obey every command she is given. This makes her a puppet, but a not nice well mannered one. She fights the curse with all her might and makes life as difficult as possible for people who order her around. She is happy and  protected until her mother dies leaving her at the mercy of her selfish and ruthless father. From the drudgery of boarding school to her father's marriage to the odious mother of her worst enemy Ella's one focus is to find Lucinda and get her to take back the curse. But in a land filled with dangerous man eating ogres that is easier said than done. Her only comforts are her friendship with the Prince and the care of her fairy godmother. Ella comes to realize that her curse is dangerous to more people than herself and she must figure out a way to end it or give up the person she loves the most.

Bit's Thoughts
I like Ella Enchanted because it is a very good book. I like Ella because she tries to break her curse and is very brave. I also like Ella because she's very smart. I like Char because I think he is very sweet. My favorite part was the end because it was happy. This is the best Cinderella story I ever read. I wish there was a second one.

My Thoughts
This book is an all time favorite of mine. It is one of my go to comfort books. It is a book filled with magic, and fantastical creatures but at its heart it is a story of a girl trying to make her own place in the world. Ella is a heroine you can cheer for. I love how she shows initiative, how she refuses to become the doormat the curse compels her to be, how she works hard to broaden her mind and how self sacrificing she becomes. Ella works hard for and earns her happily ever after. Then there is Char who is sweet and humble yet strong willed and commanding at the same time. They are absolutely perfect together and the way their story unfolds is my favorite part of the novel. I love how they begin as friendly acquaintances, develop a friendship, and the love grows from those things. I love that the majority of their "courtship" is conducted via correspondence. Those letters make me swoon every time I read them, as does the way the  proposal goes at the end. 

Don't think this is just a "girl" book either. Every year I taught this the boys rolled their eyes and groaned, but by the middle they were unfailingly just as excited about it as the girls. I even had one try to smuggle a copy out of the class so he could read the end during lunch.

This is really a book for anyone who loves a good story and it answers all those annoying little questions brought up in Cinderella. Why does the shoe only fit her? Why midnight? If she had a fairy godmother why did it take so long for her to get help? The answers are all here.

What Bit and I are reading next: The Penderwicks on Gardam Street by Jeanne Birdsall

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