Review of Cinderella and a Mouse Called Fred

Cinderella and a Mouse Called Fred Cinderella and a Mouse Called Fred
by Deborah Hopkinson; illus. by Paul O. Zelinsky
Primary    Schwartz/Random    48 pp.
8/23    9780593480038    $18.99
Library ed.  9780593480045    $21.99
e-book ed.  9780593480052    $10.99

A fairly standard retelling changes course quickly when Cinderella storms out of the ball (“What a disaster!”) declaring that the prince is a snob and her feet are killing her (“Seriously? Glass high heels?”). As her horse turns back into a mouse and the pumpkin coach cracks open on the road, “Ella” blithely kneels on the ground, picks out the seeds, and pockets them. “I’ll find my own destiny, thank you very much”—and she does, with mouse pal Fred witness to it all. Zelinsky’s humorous illustrations have fun with Cinderella’s clown-like stepfamily and their ridiculous attempts to squeeze large feet into the tiny glass slipper. Ella, on the other hand, is depicted as a down-to-earth pumpkin farmer who soon finds true love with another like-minded farmer. The two women (yaaas!) marry and move to a small farm, where they grow spectacular pumpkins, in a truly satisfying fairy-tale ending. Hopkinson’s enhanced retelling even adds a small pourquoi tale: “And that, dear readers, is the story of how fairytale pumpkins got their name.” Sorry, Prince Charming—this revisionist tale ends quite happily without you.

From the September/October 2023 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Jennifer M. Brabander

Jennifer M. Brabander is former senior editor of The Horn Book Magazine. She holds an MA from the Center for the Study of Children’s Literature from Simmons University.

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