May 7, 2008

stalwart and true

"It's never too soon to start being finished." -- from Ella Enchanted, 1998 Newbery Honoree.

Ella of Frell stands out in the thickening crowd of plucky heroines milling about popular YA novels these days; this junior feminist reincarnation of the classic Cinderella character was born to Gail Carson Levine around the time my kids themselves were born - 1997 - but she appeals to them as much as much as the Gossip Girls and Main Street orphans.

Two things in the story just about kill me, in the Holden Caulfield sense: What Ella does - and does not do - in the name of love, and her relationship with her mother. Lady Eleanor is the Lorelai Gilmore of Frell - instead of making fun of people from inside Luke's, Eleanor and Ella pelt unsuspecting passers-by with rubbish from high in the boughs of a tree. Who wouldn't want such a mom?

There's nothing not to like about this story. From the imaginative (infuriating!) obedience curse to Levine's depictions of Mandy (the fairy-cook and Ella's surrogate mother) and Hattie (the deplorable eventual stepsister), I was hooked enough to read Ella Enchanted in one sitting. Next: Fairest ...

Levine is also the author of Writing Magic: Creating Stories that Fly, a book I believe belongs in every Language Arts classroom.

4 comments:

LK said...

Oh, I like the title of that book, Writing Magic. Will have to find a copy.

damned_cat said...

It really is an awesome book. It's great for kids but can be used by anyone stuck in the worst bout of writer's block ...

Melanie said...

I also liked "Ella Enchanted", for some of the same reasons.

And I've just read "Writing Magic" and I agree, it's wonderful. Just read it from the library's collection, and I'm thinking I may have to get one of my own.

damned_cat said...

I think it's a must-have! I am trying to be very careful about not forcing it on my kids, which is hard because I think it's just wonderful.

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