"Princess, nobody can stop those rumors. People would rather believe in fairy godmothers...than think that you took charge of your own destiny."Like every commoner in the land, Ella dreams of going to the ball and marrying Prince Charming. But after she is chosen to marry the prince, life with the royal family is not the "happily ever after" that Ella imagined. Pitiless and cold, the royals try to mold her into their vision of a princess. Ella's life becomes a meaningless schedule of protocol, which she fears she will never grasp. And Prince Charming's beautiful face hides a vacant soul.Even as her life turns to misery, the stories persist that Ella's fairy godmother sent her to the ball: How else could the poor girl wear a beautiful gown, arrive in a coach, and dance in those glass slippers? But there is no fairy godmother to help Ella escape the deadening life of the castle. Can she do it on her own?Margaret Peterson Haddix's reconstruction of the Cinderella legend without the magic -- how a commoner could have married the prince -- is a story as richly fascinating as the classic tale.
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In Just Ella, Margaret Peterson Haddix puts a spin on the traditional tale of the glass slippers. In her version, Ella (sans "Cinder") finds her own way to the ball (there was no fairy godmother, despite the rumors) and wins the heart of the prince. But now she is finding that life at the palace as Prince Charming's betrothed is not as great as she thought it was going to be. In fact, it's downright boring for a self-reliant and active girl to do needlework all day or listen to instructions on court etiquette from the strict and cold Madame Bisset. Worst of all, Ella is beginning to suspect that Charming's beautiful blue eyes and golden hair are attached to a head with nothing in it. Her young tutor Jed, however, talks with her about serious things that really matter. Ella finally gets up the courage to announce to Charming that she doesn't want to go through with the wedding, but when she finds herself locked in the dungeon she realizes it's not that easy to walk away from a politically arranged marriage. In the end, as in all good fairy tales, our heroine and hero do manage to live happily ever after--but with a twist.
Fairy tale retellings are an entrancing form of young adult fiction, as they add psychological insight and turn events around for a surprising contemporary angle. Teens who enjoy this delightful revamping of an age-old story may also enjoy Donna Jo Napoli's Spinners and Zel or the Newbery Honor book Ella Enchanted, by Gail Levine. (Ages 12 and older) --Patty CampbellFrom the Back Cover:
HAPPILY NEVER AFTER
IT'S A FAMILIAR STORY: In spite of the obstacles put in her way by her wicked stepmother, Ella goes to the ball, sweeps Prince Charming off his feet, and is chosen to be his bride. Now she's comfortably ensconced in the palace, awaiting marriage to the man of her dreams. It's happily ever after time, right?
Wrong! Life for Ella has become an endless round of lessons and restrictions; even worse, Prince Charming turns out to be more like Prince Boring. Why can't she talk with him the way she can with Jed, her earnest young tutor?
Slowly, Ella comes to realize she doesn't want the life she fought so hard to win. But breaking her engagement proves more difficult -- and dangerous -- than escaping her stepmother's tyranny.
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