To tinkly snatches of romantic music—triggered by a small detachable wand—a put-upon orphan and a prince meet the loves of their lives.
Readers are enlisted at the beginning to assist the fairy godmother by pulling the gold-foil–wrapped cardboard wand out of a niche in the front cover and at proper moments laying it down on designated areas of certain pages to cue magical high spots from coach to clinch. The retelling is a bland version of the classic tale in which Cinderella does all the chores even though her stepmother and stepsibs never even thank her (and in any case they drop out of sight abruptly, feet intact, once the glass slipper fits), and she goes on to spend her days “helping others and spreading kindness wherever she went.” It does take a rather contemporary twist at the end, though, as Cinderella and the prince become “the very best of friends” for several years before they actually marry, and they are an interracial couple (she white and he a man of color). The illustrations have a serigraphic, retro look, with a pink castle adding a whiff of Disney and a parade of vintage cars driving up to the ball providing a Jazz Age riff. On the other hand, Mander’s uncrowded group scenes at the ball and again at the end are decidedly mixed, with figures not only clad from a variety of eras, but showing a range of skin tones, mostly in brown. The batteries are replaceable.
With just four selections, the sound track is a bit underpowered, but the whimsical subtext sets this apart (a centimeter or so) from the common run. (Novelty/fairy tale. 6-8)