Cinderella and a Mouse Called Fred

Random/Anne Schwartz. Aug. 2023. 48p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780593480038.
PreS-Gr 2–Most readers are familiar with the classic Charles Perrault fairy tale about the poor mistreated girl who is visited by her fairy godmother, attends a ball wearing glass slippers, and marries the prince. This cheerful retelling is spun from the perspective of one of the mice who is turned into a horse to pull Cinderella’s carriage. In this version, the fairy godmother is hilariously grouchy, Cinderella doesn’t care for getting dressed up, Fred the mouse doesn’t enjoy being a horse, and in a friendly LGBTQIA+ twist, the heroine chooses to marry a female farmer who shares her love of pumpkins instead of the prince who finds gardening distasteful. Both Cinderella’s and Fred’s roles in this story carry an affirming message about the power of being true to oneself, as they cast off their magical transformations and pursue comfort and happiness on their own terms. Large, colorful illustrations offer expressive characterization and delightful details to captivate readers. The prose is conversational and dialogue is amusingly peppered with contemporary turns of phrase, making for an appealing read-aloud experience. An author’s note provides additional information about different varieties of pumpkins.
VERDICT This inventive collaboration between a beloved author and a Caldecott Medal–winning illustrator rises above the sea of retellings with its empowering themes and positive LGBTQIA+ representation.

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