Books on a theme: Cinderella retellings for children and adults

I’m a fairy tale fiend. I fell in love with two recently released Cinderella retellings, so I thought it would be fun to pair Cinderella books for parents with Cinderella books for children! Some of these are new, some older. All excellent.

Adult and Young Adult Cinderella Retellings

Cover of Stepsister by DonnellyStepsister by Jennifer Donnely

A fun retelling, where the stepsisters are transformed into complex human beings. The events take place immediately after Cinderella marries her prince. Isabella and her sister Tavi have to deal with the repercussions of their cruelty made public, and also of having their mother’s dreams crushed. Somewhere in Isabella’s childhood, she lost pieces of her heart, and now she must find them if she’s going to save the kingdom. I loved the discussions of beauty and worth. It’s a wonderfully feminist, YA retelling.

Cover of Geekerella by PostonGeekerella: A Fangirl Fairy Tale (Once Upon A Con) by Ashley Poston

This is my favorite “Cinderella” retelling. Elle is a geek girl living with her definitely non-geek stepmother and stepsisters. She used to be able to nerd out with her dad over their favorite TV show — Starfield — which is like a cross between Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica. Her Dad even started the con ExcelsiCon. But when Starfield is turned into a movie with the handsome but problematic Darien Freeman as the lead, Elle is anything but happy, and she takes to her blog to rant about it. Meanwhile, Darien struggles with his controlling father, and being a nerd but being forced to act like a bro to keep up his persona. What I loved about this is that the two develop a relationship over time, and it’s not a love at first sight thing. I also love the con and cosplay aspect, being a geek girl myself. I needed this book as a teenager. Sage, Elle’s friend and coworker, is amazing.

Cover of Cinderella Tales from around the world by HeinerCinderella Tales From Around the World compiled by Heidi Anne Heiner

Your one-stop shop for all the “Cinderella!” Seriously, this collection offers over 150 “Cinderella” tales. These aren’t retellings, but tales from the oral tradition, or from the French literary tradition. It’s essential reading for anyone whose favorite fairy tale is “Cinderella.”

Children’s Cinderella Retellings

Cover of Cinderella LiberatorCinderella Liberator by Rebecca Solnit

This is an unusual retelling, in that it essentially takes the Charles Perrault version of Cinderella, and then makes it feminist. It’s not a picture book exactly, even though it has illustrations from the classic illustrator Arthur Rackham. Instead, it recreates the fairy tale into something we actually want to read our children. I hope she writes more and publishes them as a collection! It’s a bit dense for early elementary school children to read it, even though I recommend using this version instead of the Disney movie, or the Perrault tale. Later elementary school students will be able to read it by themselves.

Cover of Interstellar Cinderella by UnderwoodInterstellar Cinderella by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Meg Hunt

A clever, science fiction retelling, with engaging rhymic text and an independent heroine. In this retelling, Cinderella wants to be a space ship mechanic, if only she can make it to the royal rocket parade. This is perfect for early elementary aged children.

Cover of Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters by StepoeMufaro’s Beautiful Daughters: An African Tale by John Steptoe

Winner of the Coretta Scott King Award, this Zimbabwe version of the tale has two sisters — one always kind and hardworking and the other an arrogant bully — journey to meet a prince, who will choose the best one to marry. This is a lovely tale about the value of treating everyone and everything with kindness and respect.

We have more adult/child theme lists if you’re interested!

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