"The best children's stories are wisdom dipped in art and words." -Peter Reynolds

Monday, February 17, 2014

Walt Disney's Cinderella

“This is a story about darkness and light, about sorrow and joy, about something lost and something found. This is a story about Love.”

          Walt Disney’s Cinderella retold by Cynthia Rylant and illustrated by Mary Blair is truly a masterpiece! Rylant’s beautiful way with words combined with Blair’s heart-warming illustrations makes this a truly classic Cinderella story. Blair was the original artist for Walt Disney’s Cinderella movie. How could we go wrong with this incredible pair?! It is very true to the Disney movie. I have fallen in love with this book and I plan on buying my own copy to read to my children some day!

Let me begin by saying the current price for a new version of this book on is $72.84 and I would pay that price to own a copy of this book myself. That is how perfect this book is! The story follows the very classic plot of Cinderella but infused with Rylant’s beautiful, simple words. Her writing in this book is poetic and will tug at your heart’s strings. I tried to choose a favorite part in the story and failed. So, here is one of my many favorites:

“How does a young man find his maiden? His heart leads him. He finds her in a room. He asks her to dance. And when he touches her, he knows.”

I cried! I literally cried when I read this page! How BEAUTIFUL! Rylant sure knew what she was doing when she decided to retell this story. Additionally, I really enjoyed the simplicity of the text pages. They are different pastel colors of purple, pink, green, blue, and yellow and switch off being on different sides of each page. On the pages where there is not much text, there is a simple symbol or two. The entire book is full bleed and we are thrown right in the midst of the story. This is very appropriate for the intricacy of the illustrations and warm, poetic theme of the text. 

Blair's illustrations are magical. They are her own original illustrations that she painted for inspiration for Disney's film. The color scheme is actually surprisingly darker and highlighted with pastels. There are not many bright colors in this book but I think the darkness makes the story seem more dream-like. The end papers are a soft, pastel pink with a repeated royalty-inspired symbol. There are also what looks like pockets repeated on the pages. The front matter of the book is extremely elegant and feminine with shades of pink, blue, green, and white. This is definitely a princess book! However I do not care for the cover. It seems very anticlimactic for such an incredible book. The back cover is much more my style and what I would have liked to see on the front! It matches the style of the title page which turns out is courtesy of Disney themselves. 

Every time the word “Love” is in the book it has a capital L. I believe Rylant did this in order to give love an entity of its own. Love is such an integral part of life and it was the most important thing to Cinderella. The word “Love” is repeated many times in the beginning of the text to emphasize just how central it was to Cinderella’s life. And honestly, isn't that how fairy tales should be?

Let me get personal for a second. I grew up watching Disney movies as did many children of the 90’s. We were taught from these movies that a love like Cinderella’s is real and waiting for each one of us. I have read the arguments about how Disney sets unrealistic expectations about love for children and that perhaps that is the reason for the increase in divorce rate. But is it really so wrong for children to dream about having a happy ever after love life? Don’t Disney movies and others like them fill children with hope for their future? That they someday will grow up and find their prince/princess? If you do not have passion for life and love, what do you have? 

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