Ella's Big Chance: A Jazz-Age Cinderella by Shirley Hughes
This jazz-age story finds Ella Cinders, a dress-maker with talent and a mind of her own, with a big choice to make: a life of plenty or one filled with love? Does she find the courage to make all her dreams come true? Find out in this wonderfully creative adaptation of the traditional tale.
A Review from Booklist states:
"It's the 1920s, and Ella Cinders works with her father in his dress shop, along with their young doorman, Buttons. After Mr. Cinders remarries, his new wife puts him under her thumb. Ella is soon exhausted from working at her sewing machine, while her stepsisters are modeling the gowns Ella has designed. The story follows a traditional course until the very end. When the suave socialite duke puts the slipper on Ella's foot, she dismisses him and turns to Buttons, who has been her solace through her ordeal. Together they will go off and start a shop of their own, a more preferable life than being "dressed like an expensive doll."
A stylish enough work, this is a bit of an indulgence for Hughes, and the high-fashion setting and the flapper costumes don't add much to the tale for a young audience. The new ending will get their attention, however, and this self-empowered Cinderella makes for an interesting change of pace."
A Starred Review from School Library Journal states:
"Is there room for one more "Cinderella" variant in your collection? The answer is yes if it's this charming version set in the 1920s. Ella Cinders, her father, and Buttons the doorman/delivery boy run a dress shop until the terrible day when Mr. Cinders remarries and his nasty new wife moves in with her equally nasty daughters, Ruby and Pearl. "His new wife seemed to pop up from nowhere like a sharp-eyed, expensively dressed jack-in-the box." Ella's life is misery from then on, mitigated only by the care and attention of the faithful Buttons. Her Fairy Godmother sends her off to the ball where the Duke of Arc is smitten with her, but in the end Ella chooses a different happily ever after, with Buttons.
Hughes's gouache-and-pen-line illustrations exhibit her usual meticulous attention to detail, with the ball scenes inspired by Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers movies, and the original dress designs by important French couturiers of the period. This insightful retelling also offers a fascinating visual peek at a glamorous time."
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- Kate Greenaway Medal for Children's Illustration