★★★★★ Cinderella: A Love Story by Gina LoBiondo and illustrated by Donna Sterpe is a retelling of the classic fairy tale, in which a young girl named Ella quickly finds her life turned sour by her father’s second wife, Vera. After Ella’s mother dies, her father remarries a bitter widow with two daughters of her own, Marguerita and Ophelia. The girls have long been spoiled by their mother, who turns them against their new sister before they’ve even met her. Though initially excited to have new family members, Ella soon loses hope that these people share her vision for a happy household. Yet all hope is not lost. At a Royal Ball, Ella is given the chance to meet a prince, and this unlikely encounter sets not only her life, but the lives of everyone around her, in entirely new directions.
LoBiondo’s Cinderella is a charming reinterpretation of the beloved children’s book character. She seems to have a bit more spine than other authors’ versions of that same character, which lends the story a weight and voice apart from what readers might find elsewhere. Artist Donna Sterpe’s full-color illustrations illuminate key scenes throughout the story, including the moment Ella meets her horrid sisters, the day the royal messenger comes to Ella’s house to announce the prince’s ball, and more. The prose is light enough that young readers could slip comfortably into its pages, but LoBiondo still manages to hit all the familiar notes of this treasured fairy tale, ensuring that even lifelong fans will be entertained.