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11 audio discs (13 hr.) : CD audio, digital ; 4 3/4 in.
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Compact discs.
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Isabelle--a plain girl in a world that values beauty, a stubborn girl in a world that wants her to be pliant--learns that while "pretty" is a noose around your neck, "ugly" is the sword that cuts you free.


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A startlingly fresh, fiercely feminist reimagining of Cinderella from the bestselling, Printz Honor-winning author Jennifer Donnelly.

Isabelle should be blissfully happy -- she's about to marry a prince. Except that Isabelle isn't the girl who lost the slipper. And the glass shoe on her foot is filling with blood . . .

Isabelle isn't the beauty who captured the prince's heart. She's the ugly stepsister who cut off her toes to fool him. When the prince discovers Isabelle's deception, she's banished. It's no more than Isabelle deserves. She's a plain girl in a world that values beauty. A stubborn girl in a world that wants her to be pliant. Her destiny is a life of misery.

That's what Isabelle believes until she finds herself in the midst of a battle between Fate and Chance. Cruel Fate believes that an "ugly" girl with so much bitterness in her heart can never change her destiny. Roguish Chance believes otherwise. And so, Isabelle is given the opportunity to harness strength she never knew she possessed, and learns that while "pretty" is a noose around your neck, "ugly" is the sword that cuts you free.

Author Notes

Jennifer Donnelly was born in Port Chester, New York in 1963. She majored in English literature and European history at the University of Rochester. Her books for adults include The Tea Rose, The Winter Rose, and The Wild Rose. She is also the author of a picture book for children entitled Humble Pie and several young adult novels including Revolution and These Shallow Graves. A Northern Light was awarded Britain's Carnegie Medal, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Young Adult Fiction, and a Michael L. Printz Honor.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 4

School Library Journal Review

Gr 9 Up-Donnelly brilliantly reimagines what happens after the "happily ever" in "Cinderella," from the point of view of Ella's ugly stepsister Isabelle. As in the original Grimms' tale, Isabelle cut off her toes to fit into the glass slipper but failed to win the prince. Her destiny has long been drawn by the ancient female Fates who map each human life. Their charming rival Chance steals Isabelle's map and wagers the oldest Fate that he can change the path of Isabelle's life, thus beginning a chess match with Isabelle as the pawn. Despite Isabelle's best efforts to behave, her anger always wins out, especially after the hypocritical townspeople shun and ridicule her and her smart older sister Tavi for how they treated Ella. Isabelle's lost everything-her beloved horse Nero and the groom's son Felix, with whom she spent her childhood riding and sparring. Tanaquill, the fairy queen, shows herself to Isabelle and says she will grant her greatest wish if Isabelle can "find the lost pieces of her heart." Military history-loving Isabelle must use her wits, courage, and strength to withstand the many hardships she faces as she tries to forge her own way. She learns to value herself and not let others define her or what she can do. VERDICT This first-rate fairy-tale retelling effectively portrays female strength and determination and will resonate with readers who want to be valued for who they are, not what they look like.-Sharon Rawlins, New Jersey State Library, Trenton © Copyright 2019. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publisher's Weekly Review

"Cinderella" has seen many variations, but few detail what happens beyond the royal marriage, and even fewer cast a light on Cinderella's family. Printz Award-winning Donnelly (A Northern Light) does both in this feminist rendition that follows "ugly" stepsister Isabelle. Rather than becoming a proper lady as her abusive mother demands, Isabelle would prefer to ride horses with her soulmate Felix, collect "rocks and animal skulls," and practice her swordplay. Abandoned by Felix and without other prospects, down two toes by her own hand, and with her family fortune dwindling, she faces a bleak future. Then, meddlesome Chance steals the map of her life from the Fates and grants Isabelle the opportunity to revamp her destiny, and a fairy queen tasks her with finding the missing pieces of her broken heart in exchange for a wish. The story offers plenty of adventure as one of the Fates, Chance, and the queen of the fairies battle wills, and Isabelle confronts precarious situations as she becomes involved in a war between France and an evil warlord. Focusing on beauty's many guises, what contributes to hatred and cruelty, and people's power to take charge of their destinies, the retold fairy tale advocates autonomy and empowerment. Ages 12-up. Agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (May) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Kirkus Review

An ugly stepsister gets her own story in this twist on "Cinderella."The beautiful and kindhearted Ella's foot fits perfectly into the prince's glass slipper, leaving her stepsisters, Isabelle and Octavia de la Paum, with their cruel mother, ostracized in a village that has branded them as cruel after trying to deny Ella her chance at happily-ever-after. But cruelty often masks a broken heart. Eighteenth-century France is no place for bold girls like Isabelle, who is inspired by great warriors, or for unabashedly brilliant girls like Octavia, who admires great mathematicians and scientists. Isabelle is an unwitting pawn in a wager between Chance and Fate to stop a vicious warlord who is cutting a murderous swath through France, but a fairy queen makes her a tantalizing offer. Donnelly's (Beauty and the Beast: Lost in a Book, 2017, etc.) gorgeous prose doesn't shy away from the visceral: In the horrifying opening scene, which mirrors the Brothers Grimm original, Isabelle cuts off her own toes and Octavia slices off her heel to fit into the glass slipper, and the final battle scene is a corker. Isabelle's emotional and triumphant journey of self-realization proves that beauty can be found in so much more than just a pretty face. Chance has dark skin and black hair; other main characters default to white.A breathlessly exciting and utterly satisfying fairy tale. (Fantasy. 12-18) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

I have known battle-hardened soldiers who could not do what you did,"" the grand vizier tells Isabelle de la Paumé after, on her mother's behest, she cuts off her toes so she can fit her foot into a glass slipper and win a prince's hand in marriage. He doesn't mean it as a compliment: ""She is unnatural. Unhinged. Dangerous."" In the end, it is Isabelle's beautiful stepsister, Ella, who marries the prince, and Isabelle's remaining family is shunned. Ugly and disfigured Isabelle's destiny seems mapped and set. But elsewhere, Fate and Chance are at odds. Fate, a wily crone, and Chance, a mischievous young man, have wagered on Isabelle de la Paumé. Chance believes she can alter her sad future; Fate thinks it's better that she doesn't. When Isabelle is tasked with finding the pieces of her heart, she holds in her hands not only her own destiny but also the fates of many. Printz Honor Book author Donnelly offers up a stunningly focused story that rips into the heart of a familiar fairy tale. The gorgeous prose and the fairy tale themes have obvious appeal, but the real strengths here are the depth of character across the board; the examination of the cost of beauty in a world that reveres it; and Isabelle herself, a shattered but not unredeemable girl with a warrior's heart. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Donnelly's books are at the sweet spot best-selling award winners and as she tackles the always-popular Cinderella story, she'll have no trouble finding an audience.--Maggie Reagan Copyright 2019 Booklist