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BOOK REVIEW: Cinderella by Jane Ray

BOOK REVIEW: Cinderella by Jane Ray

Walker Books
November 2017
Hardcover, $14.99
Reviewed by Natalie Salvo

Fiction/Children’s Books/Interactive & Activity Books & Packs/Novelty Books

7.5/10

We are all familiar with the classic fairy-tale, Cinderella. It’s one that has been told in countless books and films. English illustrator and children’s author, Jane Ray retells this story in a beautiful, three-dimensional picture book that ultimately offers young readers a lot to marvel at and enjoy.

There was once a young girl whose mother had died when she was a child. She lived with her father and his new wife who had two daughters…They made the young girl do all the work round the house. She cooked and cleaned, washed and mended, fetched and carried. At night she was so tired, she fell asleep by the kitchen stove and in the morning she had ashes and cinder in her hair. The ugly sisters laughed and called her Cinderella.

This book is made up of six double-page illustrations that are designed to look like dioramas resembling a theatre stage. The text is hidden behind some flaps that look like curtains on the left and right sides of the stage. This makes the prose feel quite secondary in nature to the illustrations, which seem to drive the story. The plot also feels a tad rushed and could have been broken down further or expanded upon in order to allow more pages of Ray’s fine illustrations. This is particularly the case in the scene where the fairy godmother prepares Cinderella for the ball:

With a wave of her magic wand, the fairy godmother turned the pumpkin into a golden coach.
Then she waved her wand again and Cinderella found she was wearing a beautiful silk dress and tiny slippers made of glass.

This book is Ray’s second to reimagine a classic fairy-tale using this three-dimensional picture book format, with Snow White coming before. Ray has also illustrated and written countless other children’s books so she certainly knows how to design quite enchanting, detailed and eye-catching illustrations. This Cinderella book is quite small – not much larger than an adult’s hand – which is a shame because it does a disservice to Ray’s unique work and finery by making the illustrations so small. The ending is also a little rushed with no mention of a “Happily Ever After” when the Prince discovers Cinderella’s true identity:

The Prince slid the slipper onto her little foot. It fitted perfectly…
The Prince knelt at Cinderella’s feet and asked her to be his wife.
And, despite howls of rage from her stepmother and the ugly sisters, Cinderella smiled happily and answered, “Yes!”

Jane Ray’s version of the Cinderella story is ultimately a nice little picture book that is chock full of gorgeous illustrations. It’s a classic fairy-tale and Ray creates a lovely – if swift – rendering of the story for a new generation of young readers to learn and enjoy.

BOOK REVIEW: Cinderella by Jane Ray

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