Monday, July 21, 2008

Cinder Edna

If you have a preschooler-2nd grader that enjoys a good lark, share Cinder Edna by Ellen Jackson (c 1994). This charming book takes the tale of Cinderella and fractures it, and most of us will be happy with the decidedly eco-conscious twist.

Cinderella and Cinder Edna are neighbors, two women with an initial similar fate but decidedly different outcomes because of their attitude and life choices. Cinderella is made to do chores for her wicked siblings, but sits in a funk and stews in her own juices not to mention ashes. The somewhat more sensible and spunky Cinder Edna seems to have a Monty Python Soundtrack running through her life as she looks on the bright side of life and remains cheerful and upbeat through her challenges. Instead of pouting, Cinder Edna chooses to do extra chores and sings while she works.

Cinderella fits the traditional model of “princess” in looks and bearing while Cinder Edna was a modest cute, more focused on intelligence and true charm. A pumpkin, a fairy godmother and a full team of help is required to get our pampered princess to the ball, while Cinder Edna takes public transportation with a self-reliant attitude.

Randolph, the oldest son of the king bores Cinder Edna with his vanity and small talk though he easily wins the heart of a prissy Cinderella. Rupert is the younger son and just perfect for Cinder Edna as he is into recycling, saving small animals and enjoys good conversation. Could any of us resist a guy that likes to compare recipes?
When both women flee and leave a shoe behind in a mad dash at midnight Rupert even suggests that Cinderella’s shoe be saved for recycling.

So who wins the heart of a prince? Well, they both do! Randolph locates Cinderella with the slipper and Rupert with the scuffed and sensible loafer for his love. Each character receives a logical outcome in their ever after. Cinderella is bored with her shallow life while Cinder Edna is happily gardening, composting and living in a solar house.

Now that is happily ever after.

This book is a nice intro for parents looking for funny books that involve concern for the environment in an approachable manner. It’s a nice lesson for hard work and good attitude, and I love that “happily ever after” is featured so charmingly in a lush gardening scene of a happy couple working together. And trust me, you will giggling throughout the entire book both from the clever text and vibrant illustrations.

Parents working to create a dialogue with their children about environmental issues as well as what gives us long term satisfaction in life will appreciate a non-preachy conversation starter. Try a few extension activities like rewriting other fairy tales, or creating alternate plots. What if Rapunzel gave her hair to Locks of Love or Beauty and the Beast started an orphanage? Be silly and try to make alternate plots to engage them in issues or interest them in reading.

Readers: Parents, and those that just want a good laugh. Should readily be available on local library bookshelves.


Green Bean said...

What an awesome book!!! I've never even remotely heard of this book but I'm heading right over to my library's web site to reserve it. It sounds like exactly the type of book us parents would like to read to our parents - light-hearted yet with a message. Thank you, Shannon!!

Donna said...

What a hoot! I'll have to keep my eye out for this one. Thanks for the review.

Tammi said...

How cute! I'll add it to my list to pick up from the library next time. :) I'm not sure if my boys will enjoy it as much but I have some friends with girls to recommend it to.