Bella at Midnight by Diane Stanley
Awards: SLJ Best Book; Booklist Editors' Choice
AR Reading Level: 6.0
On the library stacks: YA Fiction
Recommended for: Girls aged 10+
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book is a delightful retelling of Cinderella in a way that was not obviously so "Cinderella". It took me about halfway through the book to see glimpses of the Cinderella we love and know from the world of Disney. And even then, it was only enough to make me smile at how cleverly this book was written.
Isabel was born to a noble family. Her father is a real piece of work and her mother dies right after she is born. So she is sent to the city of Castle Down where a poor, but respectable farmer and his wife take the baby in until she is weaned. But Isabel's wicked father never comes to get her and so she is raised to believe that she belongs only to the farmer's family. Isabel grows up playing with Prince Julian who lives in the nearby castle, but as they get older they drift apart. The prince must go to a faraway land as part of a peace treaty and eventually Bella's aunt comes to get her to take her back to her birth father's family. Cue the wicked stepmother and you get an idea how things might work out for poor Bella. Except Isabel is a strong woman, and the way in which everything works out might surprise you.
I enjoyed this book from start to finish. I love that each chapter is told in a different character's voice. I loved that it wasn't too over-the-top predictable. I love that there are small elements of magic, but there are also some nice religious elements too. This is a sweet, feel good story that is definitely a keeper.
Also reviewed by: Book Nut and Becky's Book Reviews
Book 48 of 100 for the 100+ Reading Challenge, Book 38 of 55 for the Countdown Challenge (2006), Book 29 of 50 for the New Author Challenge, Book 23 of 50 for the RYOB Challenge, Book 5 for the Once Upon a Time Challenge, Book 22 of 25 for the MG Reading Challenge, Book 23 of 50 for the YA Reading Challenge
5 hours ago