When their father disappears, Cinder and Ella find themselves left to care for the welfare of their mother and two younger sisters. Their mother becomes increasingly unaware and distant as she works at her loom all day and all night long. Soon the money is gone and Cinder is forced to find work elsewhere. She heads to the castle in search of employment leaving Ella to care for the family.
Ella is frustrated by the home situation. She feels underappreciated and alone. Her own mother doesn’t even remember she exists. Ella remembers the legend of the trees and decides to find her father, who she believes, is still alive because his tree is still alive. Ella’s quest becomes dangerous and at times frightening but Ella is determined and strong and finds help in the most unlikely places.
There were so many things to like in this middle grade read by Melissa Lemon. The similarities between this and the commonly known tale of Cinderella are not frequent or obvious. One would really have to work at finding the deeper connections between the two, which I really liked.
I enjoyed the personalities of both Cinder and Ella and could easily related the traits of both to people I know, and even myself. Cinder is more compassionate and kind, soft spoken and willing to believe what people tell her. Ella is more head strong, outwardly chafing at injustice and wrong doings. She is more down to earth yet still has hope.
The discussion questions at the end of the book really helped me think about deeply about family connections between parents and children, siblings and how those connections influence how we act and react with other people.
I loved the multi-layered feel to this seemingly simple fairy tale. It was an enjoyable read from start to finish.
There is some mild peril and violence, one use of the word damn.
Cinder and Ella will be released in November of 2011.
I received this book courtesy of Net Galley for review.