Interstellar Cinderella by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Meg Hunt

While I always love a good fairy tale mash-up, it was the cover art for Interstellar Cinderella that drew me in right away. Meg Hunt's retro illustrations are filled with detail, a unique (for kid's books) palette and lots of movement. I didn't even realize that the book was written by Deborah Underwood, author of the superb trio, The Quiet Book, The Loud Book and the Quiet Christmas Book, reviewed here.

Adding to the delight of discovering that this book is by an author I already adore is the fact that Interstellar Cinderella is written in rhymes - really wonderful rhymes that are a joy to read out loud, which is not as common or easy as you think to pull off in a picture book these days. I read this book out loud to students over and over for more than a week and I never tired of it or tripped over the text.

The story itself in Interstellar Cinderella is well crafted and a treat on top of the superb rhymes. Set in outer space, the iconic items from the fairy tale (and animated Disney movie) are all in place. There is a mean stepmother and stepsisters, a prince, a ball, a fairy and even a mouse and an attic prison, which is good because Underwood's story moves at a fast pace. To all this, Underwood adds a futuristic, galactic twist. Cinderella fixes the "robot dishwashers and zoombrooms in her care," but dreams of repairing space ships someday. Leaving for the royal ball, her stepmother suggests that she fix the rusty old spaceship in the driveway if she wants to join them, but, in a cruel twist, takes Cinderella's beloved toolbox with her.

However, Murgatroyd, Cinderella's robot mouse sends out a cosmic SOS and soon enough her fairy godrobot is on the scene and waving her wand. She whips up brand new tools and a space suit, "Atomic blue! With jewels!" along with a power gem to speed her ship across the sky. My favorite stanza in the book comes as Cinderella prepares to leave:

"Oh, thank you!" Cinderella said.
She quickly fixed the rocket,
then tucked the sonic socket wrench
inside her space-suit pocket.

However, the truly best part of Interstellar Cinderella, both in story and rhyme, comes at the very end. Cinderella has been found, her sonic socket wrench returned, and the Prince is smitten. However, when he asks her to marry him, Cinderella responds, 

She thought this over carefully.
Her family watched in panic.
"I'm far too young for marriage,
but I'll be your chief mechanic!"

Brilliant!!! Books like this are rare - and wonderful! Be sure to buy this for someone you love and s/he will remember it well into adulthood!

Source: Review Copy

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