These two picturebooks turn over the fairytale Cinderella on its head – by depicting a scientifically inclined young girl, intent on being an intelligent interstellar sensation – revolutionary by not following the trope of the traditional, simpering, helpless fairy tale princesses.
Written by Brenda S. Miles and Susan D. Sweet Illustrated by Valeria Docampo
Published by Magination Press (2016).
ISBN: 1433822709 (ISBN13: 9781433822704). Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.
This story pretty much follows the original storyline with Cinderstella having two wicked stepsisters who ask her to do things for them.
Also similar to the original Cinderella, she is long-suffering and obliges, except that she is shown to have a very different interest. She loves looking at the skies, gazing at the galaxies from afar. While her step sisters are very excited about the upcoming ball and meeting the Prince, she fixes their hair and sews their outfits.
Unlike the original Cinderella, however, Cinderstella has no intention of going to the ball. In fact, when she wished upon a star and met her fairy godmother, she did not wish for a coach or a fancy dress. She wished for something else instead:
While the message is pretty heavy handed, it may still work for a lot of young readers. If anything, it challenges stereotypic notions of simpering females waiting for a Prince to kiss them and lead them to a happily-ever-after, depriving them of any sense of agency.
The Afterword written by the authors who happen to be a pediatric neuropsychologist (Brenda S. Miles) and a clinical child psychologist (Susan D. Sweet) indicates that the message is meant to be explicit, as it provides even more suggestions on how to encourage girls to pursue STEM-related interests and pursuits – definitely a worthy endeavour.
Written by Deborah Underwood Illustrated by Meg Hunt
Published by Chronicle Books (2015).
ISBN: 1452125325 (ISBN13: 9781452125329). Literary Awards: Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Picture Books (2015), The Magnolia Award Nominee for K-2 (2017). Bought a copy of the book. Book photos taken by me.
Similar to the first book, this version also has two mean stepsisters and a cruel stepmother – except that the setting is in space, and Cinderella has a keen interest in doing ship repair.
Rather than jewels and clothing, she is more concerned with her toolbox, space suits, and sonic socket wrench. When her stepsisters attended the Prince’s Royal Space Parade, Cinderella was predictably left behind, and was given the additional task of fixing their broken ship.
I like how the Fairy Godmother provided her with an atomic blue spacesuit with jewels and a power gem with the function of speeding up her ship. How infinitely useful! Things became even more interesting when Cinderella found the Prince himself having a mechanical trouble.
Once again, the concept of the girl being the one in control and providing help to the male was depicted in an entertaining way in this story. While not my favourite retelling of Cinderella, I really enjoyed the illustrations and the refreshingly witty way in which the narrative was presented.
#WomenReadWomen2019: 8 of 25 – Argentina (Valeria Docampo is from Argentina)
Brenda S. Miles and Susan D. Sweet are from Canada while Deborah Underwood and Megan Hunt are from the US.