CM . . .
. Volume XIX Number 41. . . .June 21, 2013
Ten and a half-year-old Abby and her seven-year old brother Jonah have finally managed to get the magic mirror they found in the basement of their new (well, old but new-to-them) house working again. This time they've been sucked through the mirror into Cinderella's story – which they accidentally mess up. Again. Now Cinderella has a sprained ankle, a broken glass slipper, and two young assistants who are determined to help her prove to her unconventional fairy godmother, Farrah, that Cinderella is self-reliant. If they don't manage to do this in two and a half days, Farrah won't heal Cinderella's ankle, Cinderella will never be able to prove who she is to the prince, and she’ll never escape her wicked step-mother and step-sisters. Except that one of the step-sisters, Kayla, is acting...odd. Almost nice. But Kayla's newfound kindness and obvious love for the prince can’t be allowed to interfere with Cinderella's happy ending...can they?
Abby narrates her and Jonah's experiences in a new home with parents who are busy establishing their own lawyer practice in the modern-day city of Smithville, as well as their attempts to help Cinderella in the fairy tale realm of Floom. The pace is brisk and upbeat with several reflective moments as sibling relationships and what truly constitutes a "happily ever after" change along with the characters. Abby's perspective grows as her understanding of character, family, and hard work develop. Cinderella’s journey from dependent servant to self-reliant businesswoman, and Kayla's burgeoning sense of justice and kindness -- even to the point of sacrifice -- are satisfying to follow and encouraging to read. Variants in the Cinderella tradition (beyond Disney!) are mentioned, logic is applied to tradition -- Cinderella's shoes, for example, are molded to fit her feet and complete with toe-marks -- and there are intertextual references young readers will enjoy catching.
If the Shoe Fits is a welcome addition to the ranks of fairy tale revisions. It is an enjoyable read although hardly revolutionary. Though Kayla is less than exquisitely beautiful and Cinderella discovers that she enjoys financial independence, the happy ending still leaves both "good" girls in romantic relationships while the "bad" women (Betty, the step-mother, and Beatrice, the eldest step-sister) are left behind. On the other hand, the sibling dynamics are convincing and enjoyable. Abby bosses around and takes care of Jonah, and the two have disagreements without animosity, while Beatrice serves as both a foil for Kayla and the cause of much of Kayla's old, bad habits. The climactic confrontation(s) are action-packed and comical, and the ending leaves readers eager for the next adventure.
Sarah Mlynowski's career as a published author began in 2001 with Milkrun. Since then, she has published several books for children and teens, including Spells and Sleeping Bags, as well as several short-stories and novels for adults, and See Jane Write: A Girl's Guide to Writing Chick Lit.
Janet Eastwood is a student in the Master of Children's Literature program at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC.
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