The Many Faces of Cinderella

I guess I’m in a fairy tale kind of mood this week. My favorite fairy tale has to be Beauty and the Beast…but Cinderella has to be in the top five. I recently came into ownership of three different books based on this beloved fairy tale. I was surprised at the vast difference between these books, so I thought it would be fun to read them all at once and take a look at them side by side. For fun, I’m going to throw in some popular movie renditions of this story as well. I will be comparing these books and movies to the original fairy tale:

1. Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

2. Just Ella by Margaret Peterson Haddix

3. Bella at Midnight by Diane Stanley

4. Ever After starring Drew Barrymore

5. Disney’s Cinderella

6. The TV movie Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister 

***Here’s your warning: you’re going to get indepth summaries and spoilers for all of these. If you think that you might enjoy reading or watching one of these for the first time, don’t read this post.***


In case you need a refresher, here is the original tale: 

A rich man’s wife dies when her daughter is young. The girl is close to her mother, but not close to her father. She tells her daughter before dying that she needs to remain good and pious.

After a time, the girl’s father marries a woman who has two daughters. All three are characterized as possessing beauty and black hearts. They treat the girl cruelly and turn her into a servant. The girl’s father does nothing to defend her.

The girl’s stepsister gave her the nickname Cinderella, because she starts sleeping next to the dirty kitchen hearth.

Cinderella visits her mother’s gave every day to cry and pray. One day, her father visits the fair.  Her stepsisters ask for dresses and jewels, but Cinderella wants the first twig that brushes his hat. She plants that twig on her mother’s grave and a hazel tree.

Enter magic: a white bird rested on the tree. It had the power to give Cinderella anything she wished for.

The king invites all of the beautiful girls in the land to a three-day festival. He wishes to find a bride for his son. Cinderella is called upon to help her stepsisters get ready for the ball, hoping that she will be allowed to attend.

Her stepmother tells her that if she picks up all of the lentils out of the hearth, she will be allowed to go. Twice, Cinderella is forced to perform this task. Twice, she calls upon pigeons to help her. Her stepmother still refuses to let her go to the ball, because she doesn’t have anything to wear and she doesn’t know how to dance.

Cinderella runs to her mother’s grave and asks the bird to give her a gold and silver dress and shoes. She walks into the ball alone. Her step family does not recognize her, but the Prince is entranced by her. He refuses to dance with anyone else.

The Prince offers to escort Cinderella home at the end of the night, but she runs away and hides in a pigeon coop. Cinderella’s father comes by and the Prince tells her what happened. He wonders if the girl could be his daughter, but they find no one in the coop.

The same thing happens again on the next night. Cinderella eludes the Prince and her father by climbing a pear tree. On the third night, Cinderella tried to run away. However, the Prince had poured pitch on the stairs to trap her. She pulls free, but leaves a golden slipper behind.

The next morning, the Prince takes the golden shoe to Cinderella’s father, who had tried to help him find the mysterious maiden before, and explains that he will only wed the girl whose foot fits the slipper.

The stepmother tries to trick him into taking one of her daughters. She cuts off the toes of her first daughter, but the birds perching in Cinderella’s hazel tree warn the Prince. The next stepsister has her heel cut off, but the birds warn the Prince again.

When the Prince returns to Cinderella’s father, he admits that there is one more girl in the house. However, he describes her as his “deformed little Cinderella.” His wife also tries to dissuade the Prince.

However, the Prince insists on seeing her and the shoe fits! He whisks her off to the palace to become his bride. The birds in Cinderella’s hazel tree sing joyfully as they ride past.

Cinderella’s stepsisters wish to prosper from her marriage. They show up at the church on the wedding day, but pigeons peck out their eyes. The tale ends by explaining that everything was set right after they were punished for their wickedness.

And Cinderella and her Prince live happily ever after!

Okay, so let’s take a look at these renditions:


Okay, so let’s take a look at these renditions: 


Each of these stories draws on the original Cinderella tale, and yet each are different in their own right. The author’s imaginations bring them alive in new and interesting ways, and I love each and every one of them!

What’s your favorite fairy tale and/or rendition? Do you prefer the original Cinderella story or a modern rendition?




2 thoughts on “The Many Faces of Cinderella

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