Fun with a capital F!
by Stephanie Barden; Illustrations by Diane Goode
Series: Cinderella Smith (Book 1)
Publication Date, PPB Reprint: April 24, 2012
Original Publication Date: April 26, 2011
Starred Reviews: Booklist
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Cinderella Smith has problems with a capital P. Her new teacher laughs at her name, she has to sit at the smart-boys table, and her old best friend is ignoring her. Now the new girl, Erin, has asked for her advice on wicked stepsisters. But Cinderella doesn’t have stepsisters—wicked or otherwise! And to make things worse, she’s got to find her ruby red tap shoe before the fall dance recital!
How will Cinderella solve her capital P problems before it’s too late?
Our plucky heroine, Cinderella Smith, isn’t a princess. And she doesn’t have step-sisters. What she does have is a propensity for losing one of her shoes. Alas, she lost her first shoe on the way home from the hospital after she was born.
Cinderella’s having a rough start to the school year. Her old friends are pushing her out, and one of them, Rosemary T., is being a bully. But Cinderella meets a new girl, Erin. Erin is instantly interesting to Rosemary T. and the rest of Cinderella’s old group. But, convinced that the girl with the fairy tale moniker can help her with her step-sister dilemma (Erin’s mother is remarrying, and Erin’s worried that her step-sisters will be evil), Erin is interested only in Cinderella.
Cinderella is a good girl. She’s well-mannered, nice, and polite. She’s not a goody-two-shoes – It’s kind of hard to be when she’s always missing a shoe, right? Ha, ha! – but she tends to do the right thing. When Erin asks for her help with step-sisters, and says “You know about them right,” she doesn’t lie and say she does. Instead, she comes up with a plan, researching step-sisters – by reading Cinderella – and studying advice-giving with the help of a TV show. Cinderella creates a Wicked Step-Sister Notebook with questions whose answers will be placed under categories like “Not-Wicked Things”, “Possibly Wicked Things”, and “For-Sure Wicked Things”, and she and Erin put their heads together to puzzle it out.
When she does something a touch improper, Cinderella admits she’s breaking a rule and will take the blame. For instance, when she and Erin are tossing popcorn into the air and catching it in their mouths, Cinderella makes sure Erin’s mom knows it was her idea in case that’s not allowed in Erin’s house. She and Erin are good friends to one another, and it’s refreshing to watch their young friendship unfold.
Cinderella is her own person, even when it’s not popular to be so. Her unique personality is also seen in the narrative voice. Some highlights are the instances of vocabulary words or phrases thrown in with explanations ala Fancy Nancy, Diane Goode’s ink drawings, and the shoe-inspired chapter headings.
All in all, Cinderella Smith is a lot of fun. With a capital F!
— Dawn Teresa
4 of 5 Hearts. Fun with a capital F!
Though she may not charm her way into your heart to the same degree as Pennypacker’s Clementine, you’ll want to make room in your circle of friends for Cinderella Smith. A good choice for kids of parents who want their children reading smart, nice, age-appropriate stories of regular kids (as opposed to cynical, wise-cracking mini-teens) who actually like their parents and siblings, most of the time.