CinderSilly, by Diana B. Thompson, is a positive and engaging alternative to the classic Cinderella fairy tale. The book contains less of the adversarial relationship between the stepfamily and Cinderella. Instead, the stepmother plays as weary and unable to take action to change the course of her life. Thompson portrays the stepsisters as modeling after their mother, but they find by the end of the story that CinderSilly’s approach to life enriches them beyond their mother’s method. Cinderella is a joy in this story – just what you always wanted her to be – but not necessarily in a hyper-feminine way. And I love how she and the prince become friends. They’re allowed to just be kids!
At the very beginning of the book, Thompson makes a point that the story happens in the past, when labor was much harder, so when the family runs out of money (a full-page picture of an emptying coin purse), the mother and her two girls lament that life is nothing but, “a chore. A very hard chore.” CinderSilly challenges this assertion, suggesting that chores can be fun. Naturally, this leads the stepmother to assign Cinderella work, which at first curtails Cinderella’s cheer. Each time, though, she pushes through by adding an element of fun- song, dance, bubbles- prompting her stepsisters to chortle at CinderSilly’s antics. Instead of rising to their ridicule, she ignores them and continues to have fun… until the invitation to the ball arrives.
While at first uninterested in a ball that isn’t a sport, CinderSilly begins to lose her vigor when she has chores instead of partying to look forward to all night. This time, CinderSilly overcomes her malaise by appealing to a neighbor named Fairy (who likes to cook) who lends her a beautiful dress and glass slippers and cautions her to leave the party at midnight. CinderSilly declines the shoes as impractical, dresses up her clogs with ribbons, and bicycles to the ball. At the ball, everyone is finding the party to be a chore, until CinderSilly arrives to bring her singing, dancing, fun outlook to the soiree. As in the fairy tale, she has to leave at midnight, leaving her shoe. The next day, the prince arrives at her door, to return the shoe and thank her for making his birthday fun. Cinderella, the prince, and her two stepsisters all go to play ball outside, while the stepmother broods inside about the chore that is life.
It is not a book about marrying some dude and thus being allowed to be happy ever after; it’s a story of hard work and cheerfulness as its own reward, one which is contagious to others and will bring friends together. CinderSilly is a great role model; she’s not afraid of hard work and relies upon herself to solve problems. She becomes discouraged, and she asks for help, both of which give her more dimension and will help girls to accept but not be defeated by their emotions, and to lean on others when they have exhausted their internal resources. The illustrations are adorable, the text will read-aloud very well, and the content is great and lends itself to discussion. Huzzah, Diana B. Thompson for this charming and inspirational book!
Katharine Chambers is an intern with MissRepresentation.org. Find more #MediaWeLike here.