Review: Just Ella by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Margaret Peterson Haddix’s Website
Age Group: Teen
Source: Borrowed from Public Library

Summary from GoodReads:

Being a princess isn’t all that….

You’ve heard the fairytale: a glass slipper, Prince Charming, happily ever after…

Welcome to reality: royal genealogy lessons, needlepoint, acting like “a proper lady,” and — worst of all — a prince who is not the least bit interesting, and certainly not charming.

As soon-to-be princess Ella deals with her newfound status, she comes to realize she is not “your majesty” material. But breaking off a royal engagement is no easy feat, especially when you’re crushing on another boy in the palace…. For Ella to escape, it will take intelligence, determination, and spunk — and no ladylike behavior allowed.

My Thoughts:

Before I start my review of this book, let me just tell you how much I love fairy tales.  I was obsessed with fairy tales when I was a kid.  If my mom took me to the library, all I would want to borrow would be fairy tales.  In fact, I didn’t ever like Dr. Seuss as a kid because their were no princesses in his books. (I do love Dr. Seuss now, by the way).

My love of fairy tales has not dimmed at all since I was a child.  Some of my favorite books and movies are either based on fairy tales, or have that magical fairy tale feeling.

That said, obviously I was expecting Just Ella to have a similar feel to other fairy tale retellings that I’ve read.  This book, however, does not have the same feel as a fairy tale.  I just wasn’t in love with the story.  Although this book was not what I was expecting or hoping for, there were still some aspects that I really enjoyed.

First of all, I really loved Ella, the main character.  She is only fifteen, but she is independent and self-reliant.  In this story, Ella did not have any help from a fairy godmother to go to the ball.  She figured it out a way by herself.  I loved that Ella was smart and could figure out how to do things for herself.  When she was locked in the dungeon, she found a way to escape using her own mind.  She did not wait for someone to come along and rescue her.  Although she knew how to take care of herself, I really liked how long it took her to realize that she didn’t want to be a princess.  I think anyone in her shoes, coming from servitude to living in a castle, would act in a similar way.

As much as I did like Ella, there are other books I like a lot more involving Cinderella.  Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine, for example.  The fairy tale retellings I really like show the hero and the heroine getting to know each other, and find they love each other after that.  There were no times in the book when I thought Ella and the hero (I can’t tell you who it is!  No spoilers) would make a good couple.  Haddix just told us.

Just Ella is a good book, but it just didn’t hit the right notes for me.

About Quinn

I'm a twenty-something children's librarian at a public library in Central New York. I've long left my teen years behind me, but I love to read YA and children's books. I have two adorable dogs. Ginger is a mix between a poodle and havanese, and Daphne is Bichon Frise. Other things I love: Favorite Movie: Singing in the Rain Favorite Book: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen Favorite TV Show: Monk
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