Thursday, July 8, 2010
Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
Age Group: Middle Grade
Published: August 31, 1998 by HarperTrophy
Format: Paperback, 232 pgs
At her birth, Ella of Frell was the unfortunate recipient of a foolish fairy's gift --- the "gift" of obedience. Ella must obey any order given to her, whether it's hopping on one foot for a day and a half, or chopping off her own head! But strong-willed Ella does not tamely accept her fate. Against a bold backdrop of princes, ogres, giants, wicked stepsisters, and fairy godmothers, Ella goes on a quest to break the curse --- once and for all.
I caught the movie on TV once and absolutely had to know how much of it was true to the book, and it turns out I like them both. I was instantly taken with the Levine's story and the strong-willed Ella who can't seem to catch a break, except for being lucky enough to win the prince's heart. Ella was definitely a girl I could relate to.
Ella Enchanted was a fast and fun read with a nice twist to the Cinderella fairy tale. I enjoyed watching Ella enchant ogres, take revenge on her step sister, and reclaim her life to do with as she pleased. And I absolutely loved Prince Char; he was adorable and I wanted to hug him.
I was completely wrapped up in the magical world Levine created until the story stops being Ella's story and turns into an exact replica of a Cinderella re-telling, complete with a pumpkin carriage, three separate balls, and a gown for each night. I understand that this is a Cinderella tale, but as soon as it was announced that there were going to be balls, Levine's fun and original story become something else.
To me, the rest of the book felt out of place, like the two parts didn't mesh well together. I still enjoyed it, but I didn't care for the ending; with such a creative spin on the fairy tale I guess I was expecting something a little more Levine and a little less folk/fairy tale. This might not bother others as much as it bothered me, as I have admitted before to studying Cinderella in more depth than I care to admit, but I truly believe the ending didn't quite match the quirky, off-beat storytelling that makes the rest of the book shine.
I would recommend this for fairy tale lovers and anyone who likes interesting and spunky girls leading the way and saving the day, or for anyone looking for a cute and quick summer read.
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