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Reviewed by Kimberlee J Benart for Readers' Favorite
If you’re looking for a Cinderella story replete with a fairy godmother, friendly mice, and a pumpkin that turns into a coach, Cinderella: The Brothers Grimm Story Told as a Novella, as told by Mike Klaassen, isn’t it. There are rats, but they’re feared carriers of the plagues that have not only decimated the kingdom, but taken Cinderella’s mother and father from her. Although the story is set in the past and includes a cruel stepmother, unkind stepsisters, a ball, a prince, a slipper, and a happily-ever-after ending, Klaassen provides some very unexpected twists on the traditional folktale. Here is a heroine and a story line more compatible with modern sensibilities of what a young woman, who finds herself capable of doing much, should do when her country, let alone her prince, needs it. This doesn’t come to Cinderella without a falter or a stumble along the way; but in stages of growing confidence until she finally has the courage to take her destiny into her own hands. The Brothers Grimm folktale is also included for comparison.
I like this version. While the writing style in Cinderella, as told by Mike Klaassen, keeps to the tone of the Grimm tale and the plot provides a bridge between the two, the narrative is richer in imagination, complexity of character, and emotional depth. I especially like the focus on forgiveness and understanding, rather than on retributive justice by standards we would find barbaric today. Who wouldn't prefer to do their own housework for the rest of their lives, rather than have their eyes pecked out? Folktale fans and readers of all ages will enjoy this latest addition to Klaassen’s Classic Folktales collection.