Solnit, Rebecca. Cinderella Liberator. Arthur Rackham, Illus. Folklore. Haymarket, 05/2019. 29pp. $17.95. 978-1-608-46596-5. OUTSTANDING. GRADES 4-ADULT.
A feminist reimagining of Cinderella, this story alters the narrative to focus on the liberation that comes with helping oneself and those around you. The plot still features a ball, a prince, stepsisters and stepmother, and a magic-making fairy godmother; however, the destinies of these characters are updated. In Solnit’s version, no one gets married (why go from one entrapment to another?), the stepsisters are redeemed, and the prince finds liberation from his own social trap. Even the rats and lizards who become Ella’s footmen and horses are given the option of staying as they are or transforming back. The tale is amusing and witty. “[The stepsisters] weren’t very happy, because they were worried that someone might have higher hair or more bows than they did. Which, probably, someone did. Usually someone does.” Arthur Rackham’s watercolor illustrations, featured in the 1919 edition of the Cinderella story, portray the characters in striking silhouettes. Perhaps best suited for kids who are okay with retellings and/or old enough to be interested in reinterpretations and stories that challenge problematic texts. Review based on an ARC.
Emily Phillips, Oakland Public Library