For some strange reason, it seems like every little girl's favorite Disney princess is Cinderella. (Okay, for all of you shouting at me, not every little girl. But quite a majority.) Whether it is the classic rags-to-riches story or the lovable mice, there just seems to be something timeless about Disney's Cinderella. And, I am proud to say, I hate it. Wait, wait, hang on! Put down the pitchforks and let me explain why.
First of all, most Disney movies from Snow White and the Seven Dwarves all the way to Frozen, are based off of fairy tales by either the Grimm Brothers or Hans Christian Andersen. Cinderella comes from the Grimm Brothers. Now, most of the original Grimms' fairy tales share rather grotesque elements. For example, in the original "Cinderella," the stepsisters get their eyes pecked out by birds. Naturally, this would never fly in a Disney movie. Nor does Quasimodo's necrophilia in Hunchback of Notre Dame, but that's another story. While most (all) children should not be reading/watching the scene where body parts are forcibly removed by birds, as a teenager, I cannot help but lament the lack of a more severe, more vivid punishment for the stepsisters. So, even if you are a diehard fan of Disney's Cinderella, I would recommend reading some of the original tales, be the Grimms or Hans Christian Andersen.
Now, my biggest, and longest lasting problem with Disney's Cinderella is the characters. Don't get me wrong, the mice are adorable, and I have been known to sing "Bibbidi-bobbidi-boo" on occasion, and Lady Tremaine can give me the shivers. But Cinderella and Prince Charming, you know, the two main characters of the story, are two of the most boring, unappealing characters that I have ever come across. First of all, Prince Charming. He doesn't even have A NAME. He is so uninteresting that they don't even bother giving him a name. He just sits around at the ball, yawning, until Cinderella shows up, and then poof, he's in love, story over. People make fun of Bella Swan (Twilight) for not having a lot of personality, but compared to Disney's Prince Charming, she seems like a delightfully dynamic character. Then there is Cinderella. She has more personality than the prince, I'll give you that. But, what I cannot stand about her is that she will not do anything for herself. She wants to go to the ball, great. But, notice, it is the mice and the birds that band together to make her dress. Then, when her stepsisters ruin her dress, does she take the initiative to find an alternative way to get to the ball? No, she cries in the garden until the Fairy Godmother shows up to make it all better. Then, after the ball, when Cinderella finds herself locked away, she doesn't try to get out herself, rather the mice risk being boiled by hot tea and climb up stairs at least twice their height to get Cinderella the key. It's not that I don't adore the cast of supporting characters. It's that the two leads are extremely lackluster and boring, and don't really take the initiative to do anything in the story.
However, that does not mean that the Cinderella story should be ignored. The original is, of course, fantastic, and there are tons of rewrites that make Cinderella one of my favorite fairy tales. Just not the Disney version. Try reading Just Ella by Margaret Peterson Haddix. Not only does Ella have no fairy godmother, so she completely takes control of her life, but it explores what happens after the happily ever after. If you like science fiction or fantasy, try Cinder by Marissa Meyer. In this one, Cinder is a cyborg mechanic living in a future where there is a race of people on the moon who can control people's thoughts. And finally, though it may be a kid's book, Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine was one of my favorite books growing up.
Auroara is a Belmar Teen who has served on the library's Teen Advisory Board for several years. This is her first Teen Page submission.
There is no end
To the soul within my being
To the ideas, dreams, epiphanies
That encompass my mind.
Is not a cageable force;
It runs free with the wind,
Dances with the leaves,
Refuses to be bound
Tries to make it right
Attempts to tell others
Of my values
Of my wonder
Of compassion, wisdom, and hope.
It dives off cliffs,
Swims against the tide.
If you enjoy poetry, you might try checking out Tell The World: Teen Poems from WritersCorps. This book shares the voices of teens who show the world how poetry can reflect who we are, where we are from, how we love, and why we hope.
I just finished reading The Tyrant's Daughter by J.C. Carleson and I was blown away (not literally thank goodness). Laila's father, a dictator in an unnamed Middle Eastern country, has been killed and now she, her mom and brother have been relocated to the United States. Coming from a life of privilege and also from a country with strict laws about how women may act, Laila has a hard time adjusting to her new life. Luckily, Emmy steps in to show her the ropes of American culture. However, a US government agent begins to complicate things by manipulating her family to try and gain more influence in her home country.
Carleson is a former CIA operative who worked in Baghdad during Saddam Hussein's rule. She has an inside perspective on politics in the Middle East and how the US interacts with these countries. Usually, I would skip the author's note and essay found in the back of the book but, in this case, I highly recommend reading them as they are well worth it!
If you like this book you may also enjoy Shabanu by Suzanne Staples.