Thursday, August 23, 2012

Princess Pen-Pals: Dear Cinderella by Marian Moore and Mary Jane Kensington

Dear Cinderella,

I am so happy we are going to be pen pals. I live in a great big castle with my mean step-mother. Even though I am a princess, she make me work all the time.

I wish I lived in some faraway place where dreams come true.

SIGH. It's not easy being a fairy tale princess. Snow and Cindy have their mean step-mothers in common, and as their letters fly back and forth, the two soon become BFFs. Both counsel the other to keep a positive outlook, smile through their tears, and keep singing as they do their step-mothers' dirty work.

"Singing and dancing when you are scrubbing, washing, and cleaning make the chores seem like fun,” writes Cinderella helpfully.

“I have been singing and dancing ever since I read your letter,” Snow White gushes.

If this were a movie musical, Cindy and Snow would launch into a split-screen duet dance version of "Someday My Prince Will Come" at this point, with chirping bluebirds fluttering all 'round.

The two would-be princess brides share their dreams of a Prince Charming who will take them away from all of these chores, and confide their fears that their step-mothers have more nefarious events than merely scrubbing and sweeping planned for them. When the unwary Snow White confides in a missive that she is so looking forward to a day far away from her tasks, picnicking in the forest with the jovial huntsman, readers will, of course, know what's up, and when later at the Seven Dwarfs' cottage an old apple seller comes to the door, the fairy tale cognoscenti will be crying "No, Snow! Don't eat that apple!!" Likewise, when Cindy gets left behind, still toiling on her homemade gown on the night of the ball, savvy readers will know that she'll soon be dancing the light fantastic in her glass slippers with a certain prince.

Although some reviewers have tagged this fluffy princess tale as "vapid," it can just as easily be read as a tongue-in-cheek spoof of the whole Disneyesque take on the classics. Older (third, fourth, or fifth graders, say) who may have read the original grim Grimm tales, will chuckle at this bubbly parody, and younger readers will enjoy being in the know when famous elements of the plot are foreshadowed in the girls' perky epistles.

Taken as an intermediate step between the literary license of Disney films and the grim realities of cut-off toes and carved-out hearts of the original tales, this story has its niche. Considered as part of the growing "fractured fairy tale genre," Marian Moore and MaryJane Kensington's light-hearted new Dear Cinderella (Orchard Books, 2012) can be good fun for fans of the two venerable fairy tale princesses who keep smiling on the way to their happy-ever-after.

For a preview look, the book's trailer is here.

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