Cinderella by Sarah L. Thomson & Nicoletta Ceccoli

OH this book. I have thought way too much about it and worried over it’s pages concerning how to review it.  We borrowed this gorgeous book from the Library and ever since, my little 5 year old has stared at the pages in awe.  The illustrations are very beautiful and they are of a younger girl. (Cinderella looks like she is nine or so, which is kind of creepy to me but awesome to my daughter) There is a uniqueness to all the pictures that will draw anyone in.

This follows the traditional Cinderella. Her Father marries a horrible woman, and is never mentioned again.  We don’t know if he got sick and died or if he just doesn’t speak up.  Cinderella’s step sisters are actually beautiful but mean, our princess does her best to be nice to them, but it’s hard.  Her Fairy godmother shows up and helps Cinderella get ready for the ball, Telling her “You are dressed like a Queen!… Behave like one as well.  Be kind and courteous to all you meet and leave before midnight, or everything that my spells have created will vanish”  (I like that part because it’s saying beauty on the inside matters.) Unfortunately, you can say that, but you should show it too.


Amazon Publishing Nicoletta Ceccoli – Cinderella

But then the part I just can’t get over, and it’s probably me being weird, happens during the second ball.  Cinderella stays too long and as she is running away she turns into rags on the steps.  The prince actually sees her. “When he looked outside, the beautiful princess was nowhere to be found. He could see nothing but a shabby little servant girl with a pumpkin in her arms. On the steps was a glass slipper”  Okay, what?  He should know her, all that has changed is her dress.  So the prince goes around to find his princess and it says that he recognized her from her smiling eyes and gentle voice.  He then says that he knew it was her the minute he saw her.   But not on the steps I guess. They then marry and Cinderella was as “good as she was beautiful.”

I know that it’s in the story, be beautiful on the outside and the inside but it causes my daughter issues.  She loves this book, in fact she just saw and said it’s her favorite ever because Cinderella is “soooooo beeeautiful”  and she is.  But with the father just dropping off with no explanation and there being not one example of how Cinderella was actually good, (even to her mean stepsisters which offers tons of opportunity) I just can’t fill my daughters head with it.  KY Craft has a wonderful Cinderella which is probably why I am being so hard on this version.  Nicoletta Ceccoli, the illustrator, has a number of kids books (We have read and loved “Oscar the Mooncats”), so I promise to find a worthy one by this talented artist and review it I am going to have to pass on this version though. (even though it’s a bargain price on amazon right now)


  • Author: Sarah L. Thomson
  • Illustrator: Nicoletta Ceccoli
  • ISBN:978-0-7614-6170-8
  • Publisher: Amazon Publishing
  • Copyright: 2012

Cinderella – Max Eilenberg & Niamh Sharkey

There are probably hundreds of Cinderella picture books out there.  This likely will not be the last time I review some Cinderella stories.  I haven’t gotten my hands on the classic Marcia Brown’s version which might be the most popular non-Disney version, so this is definitely not all-inclusive review.  I will talk about three.

A favorite in my house that I bought and own is Max Eilenberg’s version illustrated by Niamh Sharkey.   We checked this one out from the library and read it so many times I had to buy my own copy.

cinderella max

I love this version because the illustrations are colorful and unique and it keeps my daughters interest, and I feel like the author wrote it knowing I would have to read it a hundred times – and wanted to keep it fun for me too.  In this version, the father does not die, he just follows his evil step wife as if in a spell.  There is some British humor in here, (warning you will find the words stupid and shut up in this book, which you can omit if you want, but maybe it adds to the step family’s nastiness) and it’s almost as if the narrator has a personality of his own adding interesting opinions and jokes here and there.  For example, after the coachman is made from a rat found with the longest whiskers “Kapouff!!   What a very proud coachman he was- and, my, what a superior moustache!”   Get it?  Mouse-stache?  Plus my littles asks me what superior means so it’s great all around.

In this version, Cinderella goes to the ball three times (in three beautiful dresses my daugher oohs and awws over)  and all the ladies at court try to copy her dresses and end up looking the same while Cinderella shines in her original gowns. (good lesson)  You get to be the clock in this version saying “BOING, BOING, BOING” twelve times and “Run Cinderella, run! Run, Run, RUN! (Seriously, you would have to be an awful read-alouder to not have fun with this version!) What I loved maybe the most is that in the end, it’s her Father who wakes up and insists the prince try the shoe on his daughter!  Then they all are invited to the wedding, though the step sisters aren’t quite able to smile.

This might be one of my go-to favorite read aloud fairy tale book. It’s shorter than some, and fun for me too.


  • Author: Max Eilenberg
  • Illustrator: Niamh Sharkey
  • ISBN: 978-1-4063-0798-6
  • Publisher: Walker Books Ltd.
  • Copyright: 2008

Disclaimer: I purchased this book with my own money. Unfortunately, it’s out of print, but copies can still be found for not much money.

website with more images: http://niamhsharkey.blogspot.com/2008/05/cinderella.html


The Princess Problem- is it?

So, I go back and forth between absolutely loving all the glitter and princess obsessions in my household and worrying that it may be unhealthy.  (I’ve even read books like “Cinderella ate my Daughter” by Peggy Orenstein my review of that you can read here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1175371034)  You see, My oldest absolutely LOVES all things pink and princess… to a degree that I don’t ever remember possessing.  Even my little 2 year old insists on dresses now.

You might think I am crazy, or worried about nothing, but then things like what happened this morning occur and I know I have a right to be wary.  This morning before school, my husband was pep-talking our little preschooler, encouraging her to be friendly with all the little kids, not just her best friend during circle time.  The seats at times are assigned and sometimes our little one is less than thrilled by who she is seated next to, though she is working on it.

Husband says- “You should be happy to sit next to any of the kids because everyone has something special about them.” (nice work Dad, I totally approve)  to which our girl said “Yes, even boys all have something that’s awesome about them!”  (Oh good, she’s getting it!)  Daddy then says “Yes, and the girls do to.”  To which she says “No they don’t, they have something Pretty about them!” (Oh no!)  And my husband, thinking this is sort of weird says… “Well that and awesome. Girls can be awesome as well as pretty”  and my littles just says “No” and begins chanting “Pretty, Pretty, Pretty.” like a room full of kids would chant for Ice Cream.

Now, I think that’s a bit creepy!  Seriously.  Yes, she is still at an age where she thinks all little girls are beautiful simply because they are a girl, so we aren’t in total trouble yet.  But, we are working on showing our little one that being pretty on the inside is so much more important than having a nice dress or blonde hair (she is sad her hair is brown).  Let me tell you, it feels like an uphill battle.  All the time people are telling her how cute her dress is, or how adorable she looks.   Thankfully, my little girl is also super loving and kind and has a lot going for her that we are working on encouraging. However, it was a wonderful reminder that the books we read our little kids matter. We should be careful of what message it is giving (seriously parents, if you have ready some of the Disney early reader, abbreviated versions of the princess tales, it’s dumb and all about looks and love in the not good way)  I have finally banned them from our Library piles, I dislike their messages so much. I might grab a few someday for review purposes so you can see I am not making this up.

Anyway, all of this to say that I still LOVE fairy tales and think that there are a ton that show a great message to little girls about inner beauty and love.  Fairy tales can even help in all of this.  For instance “Papa Gatto” is one of my favorites. My daughter loves it too and I will review it soon for you.  Not only that, but you can read the same tale and find ones that make more sense and follow a storyline that isn’t just about looks. So be careful, read the stories and remind yourself that beautiful pictures aren’t enough.  I will show you what I am talking about with my review of three Cinderella tales next.


The Princess Who Had No Kingdom – Ursula Jones & Sarah Gibb

The Princess Who had No Kingdom - ursula jones & Sarah Gibb

The Princess Who had No Kingdom – ursula jones & Sarah Gibb Image courtesy of Albert Whitman & Company (C) Sarah Gibb.

If you haven’t read some of the Ursula Jones/Sarah Gibb combination books, you are missing out.  Together they have produced some beautiful fairytales!  This particular story continues to be a favorite in our bedtime routines.  It’s funny and pretty and Oooh that’s a good mix.

Summary: This fairytale is a bit different than others.  We know little about our princess except that she works hard and is looking to find her kingdom.  (She knows and does not doubt that she is in fact a princess, she just is not rich has not found her kingdom quite yet)

Princess who had no kingdom 2

Image courtesy of Albert Whitman & Company (C) Sarah Gibb.


Image courtesy of Albert Whitman & Company (C) Sarah Gibb.


Cream horn fight over the princess Image courtesy of Albert Whitman & Company (C) Sarah Gibb.

Everywhere our princess goes, wealthy mothers hide their eligible sons so they don’t fall instantly in love with her.  Our Princess carries on taking packages in her cart and selling royal cast-offs to earn a bit of money as she searches for her kingdom.  Finally there is a ball held for an up-and-coming prince turned king and our princess decides to attend.  All of the wifeless kings fall in love with her (even though she is dressed in a rag dress and not concerned with fitting in.)  There is even a pastry fight as each king offers our princess their kingdom, yelling at the others.   She sneaks out of the ball and begins to search again.   Along the way she finds a former acquaintance and he tells her she is the queen of his heart.  They decide to make a go of it, He telling Jokes and she carrying parcels and they find they are quite happy.  Oh, she also realizes that she is the queen of “here, there and everywhere”  in a sort of “home is where the heart is” kind of way.

Review:  Any story that encourages kids to be themselves, to value hard work, and to choose love over money is a winner in my mind.  The illustrations are colorful and different.  Every other page goes from full color illustration to a silhouette combination and my daughters really enjoy looking at the intricate pictures even on their own.  If you are looking for a princess story that is a little different from the rest, this one is it.

  • Author: Ursula Jones
  • Illustrator: Sara Gibb
  • ISBN: 978-0-8075-6630-5
  • Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company
  • Copyright: 2009


Disclaimer: I bought this book with my own money and emailed the publisher for permission to post pictures.  Image courtesy of Albert Whitman & Company (C) Sarah Gibb.


The Lady & The Lion – Laurel Long & Jacqueline K. Ogburn

If you are llady and the lionooking for an illustrator that will take your breath away, Laurel Long is it. Combine that with my favorite fairy tale- Beauty and the Beast, and you have a surefire winner.  “The Lady and the Lion” uniquely mixes story elements from “East of the Sun, West of the Moon” with  “Beauty and the Beast” for an action packed story boys and girls both should love.

Summary:  A merchant unknowingly steals a singing Lark from a ferocious lion’s garden. In exchange for his life and the bird, he agrees to give the lion whatever greets him first as he returns home.  Unfortunately, it is his youngest daughter who races out to see him and he then must take her to the lion’s house.  As any father would, he tries to talk her out of going, but she is brave and wants to keep her father’s word so she goes.

The lady and the lion from Laurel Long’s website. Laurellong.com

It turns out, the Lion isn’t all he seems, every night he and all his castle inhabitants turn back into their human form.  And what a beautiful prince he is!  They quickly fall in love and are happily married.  Unfortunately, there is another part to the curse, if any candlelight should touch his human form, he will turn into a dove for seven years, forced to roam the earth and never rest.

Well, accidents happen, and her wonderful half lion, half man husband is turned into a dove!  Our lady heroine  hunts the earth looking for her lost love, asking the help of the sun, moon and the North wind.    Our Lady helps battles an evil dragon/sorceress but evil escapes with her husband to a wicked castle.   Using the gifts from the sun and moon our lady breaks in and rescues her prince, riding the world of the evil enchantress and living happily ever after of course.

Lady and the lion against the dragon. From laurel Long’s website laurellong.com

Review:  The pictures alone make this story worth having, but I love that we have a strong heroine who loves her father too much to let him break his word to a lion.  (not a safe idea)  She is faithful and searches out her husband to the ends of the earth.  Don’t worry guys,  the Lion doesn’t just sit back and wait for his lady to rescue him, he battles the dragon fiercely in his lion form.  The lady and he work together in the end to defeat their enemy.  Now for some bad news.   This book is sadly out of print. Not only that, but I am not the only one who loves it.  So, if you have to have it in your collection (and I tend to think you do) you aren’t going to get it cheaply.  Even finding a copy at the local library is going to require patience and a wait list.  I snagged my copy from ebay I think.  This book is definitely a valuable favorite of mine and worth extra money.

  • Author: Laurel Long & Jacqueline K. Ogburn
  • Illustrator: Laurel Long
  • ISBN: 0-8037-2651-1
  • Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers
  • copyright: 2003



Fairy Wings – Lauren Mills & Dennis Nolan

This book right here is one everyone should own. I stumbled upon this gem (which is out of print, so find yourself a copy asap) through a list on Goodreads for “Gorgeously illustrated Fairy Tales”  and Gorgeous it is!

fairy wings cover

Shiny golden letters dress up this dust jacket showing Fia and Kip dancing.

Summary:  I will admit right now, I read this book sometimes when my kids are nowhere around. It’s stunning, and the story is touching. Fia, our heroine, happens to be the only fairy around without wings.  Because of this, she has no fairy friends, and her seven other sisters are embarrassed of her.  Fia plays with a frog, a rat and a crow and that simply isn’t done!  Because she is wing-less she also does things other fairy-kind wouldn’t dream of doing, like paddling around the river in a goose’s egg.  It turns out, she befriends a fairy  boy named Kip doing just this and they are fast friends.  He invites her to the May Dance and she just might work up the courage to go with him.

Fia and Father

“I have eight beautiful daughters… “might be my favorite line in the whole book. (yeah, I am a mom and I love my two very different girls like crazy, so this hits home for the parent. I’m pretty sure my kids have never given it a second thought.)

There is more drama than just the wingless, ugly duckling kind. You see, there is a Troll lurking about the woods and the May Dance just might be the perfect time for said troll to snatch up all the fairy people!  Perhaps Fia and her land-dwelling friends might be perfect to save them?  Don’t forget,  there’s also an adorable love story thrown in too.

fairy wings troll

Every good Fairy tale should have something creepy in it. This certainly fits that bill! Yes, those are tiny feet and hands sticking out of the net!

Review: Beautiful illustrations aside, this book isn’t just fluff to fill our kids heads like so much of the princess culture tends to offer us.  Fia is different, brave and kind.  She doesn’t wait around for a man to save her, but when a boy befriends her and actually loves her- it’s very touching.  I like Fia also because she is friends with unlovable creatures- not just the animals, but the Woodkins too (funny looking tiny land people). Her parents aren’t cruel, they love her desperately and support her throughout, a message which I enjoy reading to my kids all day long.  As far as fairy tale books, this one is one of my favorites.  Hopefully I have talked you into the wonderful book that this is.

  • Author: Lauren Mills
  • Illustrator: Lauren Mills & Dennis Nolan
  • ISBN: 0-316-57397-3
  • Publisher:  Little, Brown & Company
  • Copyright: 1995


Disclaimer:  I purchased this book with my own money (though I did not pay nearly enough for it!) I emailed the author to ask permission for the review and she said yes! (good thing too, She has more books I want to review!)