Sunday, March 22, 2020

After The Ball! Sootypaws: A Cinderella Story by Maggie Rudy

There once was a mouse, and her life was no fun. Her mother was eaten by a tabby cat and her father took a new rat wife with two daughters. Then he died leaving her alone with her stepmother and stepsisters.

The steprats made her do all the work. At night she curled up in the fireplace ashes to keep warm, and so they called her Sootypaws.

But Sootypaws was kind. She befriended Frog and his tadpoles, saved crumbs for the ants and fur from her comb to line the bluebird's nest.

Then an invitation came from the palace. The King desired his son the Prince to find a bride, and all the maidens of the land were invited. The lazy, selfish stepsisters order Sootypaws to wash and iron their frilliest, fanciest gowns, and go off chattering about becoming a princess. Sootypaws rested by the pond and wished she could go the ball.
"You will," said the frog. "There is a full moon and it is a very good night for wishes."

And the moon magic provides rose petals for a delicate dress. Bluebird provides her bluest feathers for a fluttery fan, the spiders spin their webs into lacy trim, the ants cut leaves to shape dainty shoes, and the butterflies spread their wings for a cloak. In an apple coach lit by firefly lamps and pulled by blue-bellied lizards, Sootypaws is off to the ball, looking every inch a princess.
"Be back by midnight--" warned the bluebird,"...when the magic wears off."

Of course the prince is enchanted. They dance and dine upon strawberry cream puffs and fall in love. Of course, Sootypaws is swept off her tired feet and forgets all about the curfew until the clock begins to strike the midnight peal. Leaping up, she loses her greenleaf shoes and is left, in her ashy apron, to trudge sadly home.
"DESPERATELY SEEKING DAMSEL!" her stepmother reads the next morning.

"The Prince will marry the lady whose foot fits the slipper."

And in true Cinderella tradition, the Prince finds his dainty-but sooty-footed Princess, greatly disappointing the big-footed Steprat sisters, and prepares to take her away to the palace. But in Maggie Rudy's brand-new version of the classic tale, Sootypaws: A Cinderella Story (Godwin Books/Henry Holt and Company, 2020), there's a modernist twist, in which Sootypaws, nee Rose, and the Prince decide to eschew uncomfortable shoes and palaces to be free to find adventures in the wilds, living "mousely ever after."

Gloriously illustrated by author-illustrator Maggie Rudy's charmingly constructed diorama scenes with handmade animal actors and naturally- sourced haute-couture costumes, this new reworking of Cinderella story will tickle kids' fancies, delight them with their engaging characters, and surprise them with the inventive ending.

"... full of gentle humor . . . . a refreshing adaptation." says School Library Journal.

Other handcrafted mouse tales by Maggie Rudy include City Mouse, Country Mouse and The House that Mouse Built.

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