Tag Archives: Cinderella

The Last Book Before Bedtime by Nicola O’Byrne

I’m a huge fan of Nicola O’Byrne’s books.  Both Open Very Carefully and Use Your Imagination are absolute winners, especially for reading aloud to big groups of kids.  Her illustrations are colourful and full of character and I just love the style of them.  Nicola’s books get better and better, and her latest book from Nosy Crow, The Last Book Before Bedtime just goes to prove this.

The Last Book Before Bedtime-23148-3-456x579

Everyone knows that the very last story before bed is the best story of all. But the problem is, everyone wants to be in that very last story! A familiar fairy tale is turned topsy-turvy when Cinderella hijacks the story of The Three Little Pigs, then Little Red Riding Hood jumps in, adamant that her story is better because it’s full of danger. And then the Big Bad Wolf turns up too! But disaster strikes! Uh-oh! What will they do? The reader is still awake and needs a story! The characters make up their own story, of course, and one with enough funniness, romance, danger AND cake (obviously) to keep everyone happy.

The Last Book Before Bedtime should be called The Perfect Book Before Bedtime because this is the perfect bedtime story.  It’s got characters from lots of different stories that children will know, from The Three Little Pigs to Cinderella. The person reading gets to do all sorts of voices, from pigs to little girls and a wolf.  You can really make the book come alive with all these voices.

As well as the story that is being narrated each of the characters has little speech bubbles that add to the story.  Number 2 Pig is always hungry and looking for food (‘Who cares?! There’s a banquet in this story’), Cinderella is bossy (‘If I can’t be the star of the story, then NOBODY can!), and of course the wolf is always doing bad stuff (‘Ooooh, this is fun! I love a chance to be bad.).  One of the things I love most about Nicola’s books is the interaction between the book, the characters and the reader.  There is plenty of interaction in this book, especially towards the end.

Nicola’s illustrations are wonderful as always.  They are full of fun and silliness, and each of the characters jump off the page.  I love the way that Nicola has given each of the pigs a different personality and how Little Red and Cinderella have some real personality.  I really love the design of the book too, from the cut-out cover to the way that the characters stand out on the page.

If you are looking for the perfect book before bedtime (or to really perform for a group) you can’t go past The Last Book Before Bedtime.  It’s sure to lead you on to many, many more bedtime stories.

 

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Cinder by Marissa Meyer

There’s been a bit of a trend in recent years of retelling fairy tales with a modern twist.  Plenty of authors have tried, but few get it right (in my opinion).  So when I read that debut author Marissa Meyer had written a retelling of Cinderella I was a bit skeptical.  However, the more I read about this version of the story, called Cinder, the more I wanted to read it.  In Cinder, Marissa Meyer has taken Cinderella’s story and set it far in the future, years after World War IV, in a world with hover cars, droids, cyborgs, and a devastating plague that is wiping out civilisation.

Cinder is a gifted mechanic in New Beijing.  While she looks like a normal girl, she’s actually a cyborg – part girl, part machine.  She doesn’t remember anything from before her surgery, when she woke up as an eleven year old cyborg.  The only family she knows is the man who adopted her (who died not long afterwards), her cruel step-mother Adri, her step-sisters Peony and Pearl, and her her droid, Iko.  After her ‘father’ died she was left to her step-mother who blames Cinder for his death.  Cinder works all day at her mechanic’s booth in the market, only to pass on anything she makes to her step-mother. It is while she is busy working at her booth one day that the handsome Prince Kai comes to get his droid repaired. Just after the prince leaves, a case of the plague is discovered at the market.  These events lead Cinder’s life to be entwined with Prince Kai’s.

When Cinder’s step-sister, Peony catches the plague and is taken to quarantine, Adri blames Cinder.  She sends her away, against her will, to become part of the cyborg tests to find a cure for the plague.  It is here that she meets Dr Erland, who helps Cinder unlock her past and discover who she really is.  However, the truth is dangerous.  The mysterious Queen Levana of the Lunar People is coming to Earth to meet with Prince Kai, and Dr Erland warns Cinder that Queen Levana must never see her.  But Prince Kai’s droid has revealed secrets to Cinder that she must tell the prince before it is too late.

Marissa Meyer has woven a story that has elements of the original Cinderella fairy tale, while also being unique and breath-taking.  Marissa has introduced us to this plague-stricken world that has risen out of a devastating war.  It is a world filled with androids that are everything from nurses to escorts, humans that have been patched up with mechanical parts to create cyborgs, hover cars that have replaced automobiles, and a race of people that live on the moon and can manipulate humans.

The Lunars were one of the most interesting parts of the story and it seems that they will be central to the other books in the series (Scarlett, Cress, and Winter).  The mystery surrounding them and their bio-electrical powers really hooked me and I want to read the next books in the series to find out more about them.

Both Cinder and Kai are great characters and you really feel for them and the situations that they are forced into.  I thought Kai was very different from the arrogant, Prince Charming character that we’re used to from other fairy tale books.  He is put under a lot of pressure but doesn’t cave under it.  He’s not afraid of Queen Levana and not afraid to stand up for what he believes in.

There’s something for everyone in Cinder – mystery, suspense, science, robots and romance.  I can’t wait for Scarlett in 2013. Thanks Marissa for a great start to 2012!

5 out of 5 stars

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