Margaret Peterson Haddix
I love fairy tale novels and I love Margaret Peterson Haddix, but I have to confess that this book took me a month to read.
Just Ella is the story of what happened to Cinderella after Prince Charming proposes. Ella finds herself in the castle, learning to be a gentlewoman, and hating every minute of it. She’s not allowed to do anything but needlework (she’s not even allowed to light her own fire) and she is bored to tears. When she finally decides that she doesn’t love the prince and she tells him that she’s not going to marry him. The prince isn’t very smart (a servant says, “He wouldn’t know how to get out of bed in the morning if he didn’t have advisers telling him which foot to put on the floor first.”) but all heck breaks loose when he realizes that she’s serious. He ties Ella up and puts her in the dungeon until she relents. Ella, however, is determined not to give in, even if her escape route is dangerous, and more than a little smelly.
I found the first part of the book tedious, but once Ella ends up in the dungeon, I finished it in one setting. It’s on the N.C. Battle of the Books list for this year and I think most of my students will enjoy it.