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ELLA ENCHANTED by Gail Carson Levine

ELLA ENCHANTED

By Gail Carson Levine

Age Range: 11 - 13

Pub Date: May 11th, 1997
ISBN: 0-06-027510-3
Publisher: HarperCollins

 Levine plays her debut expansion of the Cinderella story as a straight--well, nearly straight--romance, sloughing off its layers of Freudian symbolism and creating a lively, stubborn heroine to keep the action tumbling along. Lucinda, an extraordinarily foolish fairy, bestows on baby Eleanor the gift of obedience, condemning her to a childhood in which she's compelled to follow every order, no matter how casually given. By the time she is a teenager, Ella has perfected the art of turning any imprecision in a command back on its giver. With the help of her fairy-godmother-cum-family-cook, Ella keeps her curse a secret; along the way she is sent off to finishing school with the cruel daughters of her simpering stepmother-to-be, launches a fruitless quest to beg Lucinda for release, and falls in love with Prince Charmont (and he with her). She derails their courtship, realizing what a danger she would be to him, but can't pass up a last chance to see him. From that point, the story follows its traditional course, with masked balls, pumpkin coach, and glass slippers. When the prince entreats her to marry him, Ella fights an agonizing internal battle and, driven by love, breaks the curse at last, delightedly screaming refusals over and over before melting into his arms. This refreshing take on one of the world's most popular fairy tales preserves the spirit of the original but adds plenty of humorous twists and a spunky, intelligent female lead. (Fiction/folklore. 11-13)