Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine (Harper Collins, 1997)
Fantasy / Fairy Tales / Romance
When Ella of Frell is born, the fairy Lucinda bestows a gift upon her – the gift of obedience – which turns out to be a terrible curse. As a result, Ella must find ways to assert herself despite the constant threat of obedience (if someone told her to cut off her head, she would have to). Ella’s naturally independent nature grows stronger with every challenge, despite, or perhaps because of, the curse. A clever, genuinely funny adaptation on the Cinderella tale, Ella Enchanted is the story of a cursed girl who becomes a woman capable of saving herself.
This is a wonderful book for reluctant YA and tween readers – especially girls. The story is just recognizable enough to feel familiar to anyone who has heard of Cinderella, but it deviates substantially from the classic girl-as-victim plot, giving the reader a spunky, empowering heroine she can relate to. The humor, romantic elements, and first-person narrative make it a truly accessible, charming read.