Margaret Peterson Haddix is the author of Running Out of Time; Don’t You Dare Read This, Mrs. Dunphrey; Leaving Fishers; and Among the HIdden. Her work has won a variety of honors, including the International Reading Association Children’s Book Award, ALA “Best Books for Young Adults” and “Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers” citations, and state readers’ choice lists in fifteen states. A native of Washington Court House, Ohio, she graduated from Miami University and has worked as a newspaper reporter and as a community college instructor. She now lives near Columbus, Ohio, with her husband, Doug, and their two children.
Of the genesis of Just Ella, Margaret writes: “When my daughter was three, she fell in love with fairy tales and would sit for hours listening to them. I hadn’t read many fairy tales since I was a child myself, and I was surprised by how different they sounded this time around. Soon, every time I read ‘Cinderella,’ the story I heard inside my head was Ella Brown’s.”
The book in one sentence: The sequel to the classic Cinderella story that’s not quite ‘happily ever after.’
Who would you recommend it to: Readers who don’t like fairy tales with happy endings, or people interested to know what might have happened after Cinderella’s happy ever after ending.
OK bits: I like the plot and how the author explains Cinderella’s glass slippers and ball gown, without the aid of a fairy godmother.
Boring bits: I didn’t find anything boring; it’s a short quick read.
Random review quote:
“This cleverly done book would make a good read-aloud for younger children, an addition to units on myths and fairy tales at the middle school level, and will also entertain high school students.” — Kirkus Reviews
Verdict: I recently reviewed another Cinderella-based book, and loved it a lot. The protagonist was spunky and charming. This book has a different protagonist; she’s proud, rebellious and proactive. I like this version too, although it’s a bit darker than the other book.