Ella's Big Chance
Ages 4 to 8
Simon and Schuster, 2003, 0-689-87399-9
Ella Cinders has a happy life. She works with her father in his dress-making shop and she is very skilled indeed. Also working with the Cinders family is Buttons, a young man who opens the door, makes deliveries and generally helps do things about the shop. These three good people are content with their lot and all goes well for them until one fateful day when a dreadful woman called Madame Renee comes into the shop.
For some reason Mr. Cinders decides to marry Madame Renee and soon everything in the shop changes. Madame Renee has two arrogant and very lazy daughters who condescend to model the lovely clothes that Ella and her father make. They won't lift a finger to do anything else however and soon Ella is worked off her feet. She is also ruthlessly bullied by her new stepmother and stepsisters. All in all her life becomes a miserable one. The one light in her life is Buttons, who stays on to cheer her up and to help her as best he can.
Just as one expects, Ella ends up at a ball, after receiving a little magical help, and meets a charming young man of great good looks and who just happens to be extremely wealthy.
This charming version of the classic Cinderella story is a delight to read and Shirley Hughes' signature artwork is lush and bright. What makes this book extra special is that the ending has a decided Shirley Hughesian twist to it which leaves one smiling with pleasure. How refreshing it is to have a fairy tale with such a down-to-earth and yet still magical ending.
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