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Kim's Book Reviews
| Home | Picture Books | Traditional Literature | Poetry | Nonfiction | Historical Fiction | Fantasy & Young Adult Fiction | Author Study: Lois Ehlert

Retold by Barbara Karlin
Illustrated by James Marshall



Karlin, Barbara. CINDERELLA. Illustrated by James Marshall. New York: Little, Brown & Company, 1989.      ISBN 0316546542.


With the help of her fairy godmother, Cinderella attends the palace ball and falls in love with the handsome prince. As she hurries to leave the palace before the fairy godmother's magic loses effect, she leaves behind a tiny glass slipper.


This version of the classic fairytale clearly meets the standards of good traditional fantasy. The characters are  presented as the archetypes of good and evil. Cinderella is portrayed as the poor, down-trodden girl at the mercy of her "vain and horrid" stepmother and stepsisters. Cinderella is also shown to be generous and forgiving. When she marries the handsome prince, she moves her family into the palace and finds husbands for her stepsisters. James Marshall's illustrations compliment these character traits. The stepmother and stepsisters are shown to be overindulgent in manner of dress and in appetite, and always have sneering expressions. On the other hand, Cinderella and the fairy godmother are shown in a much more flattering light.


The text, along with the illustrations, quickly establishes the setting as being in the distant past; the tale begins, "Once there was a widower" and the mode of dress and the style of architecture are clearly from an earlier time. There are bits of the modern world included to add humor. The stepdaughters use modern phrases, "What a stupid  little house!" and in some of the illustrations we see signs of the present, the prince lounging in a hammock on the palace lawn and Japanese lanterns decorating the palace during the ball.


Even with these few twists added to spice things up, the classic theme of good triumphing over evil is clearly stated. The prose reads well aloud, and, as one would expect, Cinderella lives happily ever after.

Traditional Literature