Bibliographic Information: Willard, N. (2003). Cinderella’s dress. New York, NY: The Blue Sky Press.
Brief Annotation: Two magpies collect paper and shiny trinkets. When the daughter of the merchant whose house they live near has nothing to wear to the ball, they try to save the day.
Genre: Folklore (Fairytale)
Grade Level: PreK-3
Readers who will like this: Readers who enjoy Cinderella; readers who enjoy stories with animals as main characters
Rating/Response: 3; I went back and forth between a two and a three for this rating. On the one hand, this was a unique perspective on the Cinderella story. The magpies drive the action, yet Cinderella is never aware of their care and assistance. The text has an inconsistent rhyme scheme, which would make it difficult for a read aloud (it was even a bit difficult to read silently). Because the magpies, rather than Cinderella, are the main characters, once Cinderella leaves for the ball, it is expected that readers will be able to fill in the ending on their own; the book just stops. The part of the book that finally tipped it from a two to a three for me was the female magpie’s character development. Early on in the book, Mamma Magpie’s love for a particular ring that she likes to keep hidden is established. When the magpies are making a dress for Cinderella out of their treasured possessions, Papa Magpie suggests that the ring would be the perfect thing to complete the outfit; Mamma Magpie insists that Cinderella doesn’t need it. After the dress the magpies made for Cinderella is destroyed by the jealous stepsisters, the magpies hear Cinderella lament that she lost her mother’s ring. Mamma Magpie is instantly contrite, and gives up the ring to Cinderella; this is how the fairy godmother is initially contacted. Mamma Magpies willingness to give up a treasured possession in order to help her “adopted daughter” is the saving grace of this awkward retelling.
One question you would ask before a read aloud: Who are the helpers in the Cinderella story that you know?