Since I have several siblings who either work or are interned at our local library (or have worked there in years past), there’s one thing that is rarely lacking at our house: library books to read. There’s bound to always be a stack of picture books or junior readers sitting on the old radiator in the living room or scattering elsewhere in the house. Recently, I sat down at the dining room table for breakfast and found myself paging through an old friend: Shirley Hughes’ Ella’s Big Chance.

I hadn’t read it awhile, so it was a very delightful ten minutes that I spent rediscovering it. So delightful in fact that I’m currently checking out Amazon Marketplace for a copy of this book for my own library!

Beautifully illustrated by the author herself and set in the day of Jazz and the flapper, Ella’s Big Chance is a retelling of the classic Cinderella story…but with a surprise twist in the end. Mr. Cinders is a talented tailor who runs a small shop with the help of his daughter, Ella, and a delivery-boy, Buttons. They live happy, quiet lives…until Mr. Cinder remarries a widow with two snooty, elegant daughters. Ella works long days for them, without help or praise. Instead, they mock her. Her friendship with Buttons is the only bright spot in her life until the Duke throws a ball and invites everyone who is anyone, including the Cinders family. The day of the ball arrives and Ella is left home.

There’s a fairy god-mother, a beautiful gown, glass slippers and an evening at the ball. Surely there’s a happily ever after, too, right? Yes…but maybe not quite as you expect. Happily-ever-after isn’t always sparkling ball-gowns and dances with dukes. Sometimes happily-ever-after is a lot closer and more ordinary.

I love the ending. It makes me feel all warm and buttery inside.

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