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August 23, 2008

Just Ella

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Just Ella

Author: Margaret Peterson Haddix      

Page Length: 218

Reading Level: 6

Genre: Fiction        

PLOT SUMMARY: Just Ella resembles the familiar fairy tale, Cinderella, in that, Ella’s mother died when she was born and her father raised her.  When she is 12, he remarries, and after he dies, Ella becomes the house servant for Lucille, her stepmother and her two step sisters.

The Charming’s, the royal family, decide to have a ball and invite all of the single women to attend.  Lucille orders Ella to scrub the basement floor and says she cannot attend the dance.  Ella, however, retrieves her mother’s wedding dance from the attic and alters it so that she will have a gown to wear.  She then talks the neighborhood glassmaker into making some glass slippers.  When she walks in the slippers without them breaking, the glassmaker wins several bets and Ella keeps the slippers for herself.

Ella does make it to the ball, and because she is the most beautiful, the prince chooses to dance every dance with her.  Like the original Cinderella, she must leave the ball at midnight so that she will get a ride home with a generous carriage driver.

The plot continues to parallel the fairytale, until after living in the castle for two weeks, Cinderella realizes she does not love the Prince and does not want to live a controlled life inside the palace walls.  When she tries to get out of the marriage, she is thrown into the dungeon.  Her young ally, Mary, helps her to survive and escape a life, which had been referred to as “happily ever after.”

REVIEW:  This was an entertaining and fun book to read.  I like the way Margaret Haddix used the fairytale to develop a drama in which a young girl realizes that beauty and money cannot provide total happiness.  She does a good job of developing the characters and their roles.  I would suggest this book for any girls to read from sixth grade or older.

AREAS FOR TEACHING: Sequence of Events, Character, Compare/Contrast,

TOUCHY AREAS-PAGES: Inferences to Rape- Chapter 22-24, 29, but nothing that would be offensive to the reader.

RELATED BOOKS: Ella Enchanted, Fairest, The Two Princesses of Bamarre

MOVIE, MUSIC, ART CONNECTIONS: The Brothers Grimm: Cinderella, Walt Disney’s Cinderella, “The Duchess” (2008)


REVIEWED BY: Shirley Wagner

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