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Multicultural Literature
Ella Enchanted
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The Thief Lord
This Same Sky
Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge
The Eleventh Hour: Curious Mystery
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Morning Girl
The Mud Pony: A Traditional Skidi Pawnee Tale
Jingle Dancer
The Name Jar
Tree of Cranes
Good Luck Gold: And Other Poems
The Magic Paintbrush
Habibi
Ella Enchanted
Silent Lotus
Real Heroes

Levine, Gail Carson.  1997.  Ella enchanted.  New York: Harper
     Collins Publishers.  ISBN:  0060275111.

 

At birth, Ella of Frell, has a reckless gift bestowed upon her by a fairy named Lucinda.  The gift requires that Ella obey any command, regardless of the consequences.  As Ella grows older and realizes the impact of this gift, she learns ways to delay her obedience or follow the command literally,  causing frustration and confusion but ultimately she must obey.   “Instead of making me docile, Lucinda’s curse made a rebel of me. Or perhaps I was that way naturally” (Levine).

          Ella’s world is becoming complicated.  Her mother dies suddenly when Ella is fifteen.  Her self absorbed father sends her away to finishing school so that she might learn to “walk like the slip of the thing you are and not like a small elephant,” but Ella has other ideas and doesn’t want to be finished (Levine).  Although successful at languages and other finishing school subjects, her soon-to-be stepsister makes her life miserable having discerned Ella’s weakness for following orders.  Ella is determined to take matters into her own hands, find the fairy Lucinda, and take back her life!

          On her quest, Ella becomes friendly with elves and fends off dangerous ogres using her penchant for language and her wits.  Upon locating Lucinda, she is unsuccessful is releasing herself from the curse.  She returns home and falls in love with Prince Charmont, who is destined to become king.  The Prince writes to Ella and expresses his love.  He loves her voice, her intelligence, her charm, her courage, her kindness, her beauty, and her grace.   

          Realizing the danger her marriage to the Prince could inflict on the kingdom and the Prince, Ella denies her love for the prince.  She can’t resist one last encounter with him and attends a ball designed to find a suitable match for the prince.  With the help of a fairy godmother, pumpkin coach, beautiful gown, and glass slippers, Ella connects with the prince and with her courage of conviction and strength, she takes on her curse and overcomes its restraints.  Of course, she weds the prince and lives happily ever after.

          This wonderful fantasy spin-off of Cinderella, introduces a refreshing heroine.  Ella contradicts the stereotype with her take-charge, feisty, intelligence.  She flies in the face of convention and controls her own destiny and doesn’t wait to be rescued but becomes the rescuer!  Rather than helpless and needy, Ella’s relationship with the prince is based on mutual respect and humor.  Ilene Cooper of Booklist says, “Ella’s story both neatly incorporates elements of the original tale and mightily expands them, not only with the myriad consequences of the curse but also with a heroine so spirited that she wins readers’ hearts.”  Levine’s first novel, a Newbery Honor book in 1998, is a funny and refreshing twist on a favorite fairytale from the past with elements to inspire the present.  Ella’s character and that of the prince are encouraging to both boys and girls, men and women, due to their ability to step out of character and act with kindness, thoughtfulness, courage, and respect.

Cooper, Ilene.  Booklist: Ella enchanted.  Available from http://www.amazon.com.
     Accessed 26 July 04.