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.
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.