Bite-Sized Reviews of Cinderella Is Dead, The Elephant’s Girl & New Kid

July 29, 2020 Reviews 14

 

I’ve got three reviews for you today: a YA fantasy retelling, a MG contemporary fantasy, and a MG contemporary graphic novel. I hope these bite-sized reviews will be enough to feed your fiction addiction!


Bite-Sized Reviews of Cinderella Is Dead, The Elephant’s Girl & New KidCinderella Is Dead by Kalynn Bayron
Published by Bloomsbury YA on July 7, 2020
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retellings
Pages: 400
Source: NetGalley
Cover Artist: Manzi Jackson
My content rating: YA (Nothing more than kissing; Some violence)
My rating:
4 Stars

It’s 200 years after Cinderella found her prince, but the fairy tale is over. Teen girls are now required to appear at the Annual Ball, where the men of the kingdom select wives based on a girl’s display of finery. If a suitable match is not found, the girls not chosen are never heard from again.

Sixteen-year-old Sophia would much rather marry Erin, her childhood best friend, than parade in front of suitors. At the ball, Sophia makes the desperate decision to flee, and finds herself hiding in Cinderella’s mausoleum. There, she meets Constance, the last known descendant of Cinderella and her step sisters. Together they vow to bring down the king once and for all–and in the process, they learn that there’s more to Cinderella’s story than they ever knew . . .
This fresh take on a classic story will make readers question the tales they’ve been told, and root for girls to break down the constructs of the world around them.

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What if the stories that we think of as fairy tales were historical accounts? And what if those accounts had been twisted to serve the purposes of the people in power? This is the case in Cinderella Is Dead. Cinderella’s story has been told for generations as an example—and now every girl is expected to go to the ball to be “chosen” by her husband. She has no say in the matter, or in basically any other matter in her life. Girls are considered property and are meant to serve (and look pretty for) their husbands, nothing more. On the surface, it’s easy to feel like this society is over-the-top. So many of the women are completely controlled by their husbands and even abused. But then, when I really thought about it, I realized that there have been many cultures and times in our history when this was basically how it was. It may not have worked exactly this way, but women had no rights or ability to make decisions for themselves. They were the property of their father until they were the property of their husband. nd some men were kind and loving husbands, but some were not. The woman didn’t get any choice about which she ended up with. When I looked at it from that perspective, this story truly hit home for me.

I instantly connected to Sophia, the MC of the book, and to Constance, the long-lost relative of Cinderella who fights by Sophia’s side. I was rooting for them to break free of the patriarchy and remake their society. There were some aspects of the plot that I guessed early on, but one twist was a complete surprise to me, and I was happy with the way everything worked out in the end. I’d love to see a sequel to this book to see how things progress in the future!

***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher for review purposes. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***


Bite-Sized Reviews of Cinderella Is Dead, The Elephant’s Girl & New KidThe Elephant's Girl by Celesta Rimington
Published by Crown Books for Young Readers on May 19, 2020
Genres: Middle Grade, Contemporary Fantasy
Pages: 336
Source: NetGalley
Cover Artist: Ramona Kaulitzki
My content rating: MG (Ghosts)
My rating:
4 Stars

An elephant never forgets...but Lexington Willow can't remember her past. When she was a toddler, a tornado swept her away from everyone and everything she knew and landed her near an enclosure in a Nebraska zoo, where an elephant named Nyah protected her from the storm. With no trace of her family, Lex grew up at the zoo with her foster father, Roger; her best friend, Fisher; and the wind whispering in her ear.

Now that she's twelve, Lex is finally old enough to help with the elephants. But during their first training session, Nyah sends her a telepathic image of the woods outside the zoo. Despite the wind's protests, Lex decides to investigate Nyah's message and gets wrapped up in an adventure involving ghosts, lost treasure, and a puzzle that might be the key to finding her family. Can Lex summon the courage to hunt for who she really is--and why the tornado brought her here all those years ago?

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This book is a wonderful blend of contemporary and mystery with a paranormal twist. Lex doesn’t know anything about her background. At five years old, she was discovered at the zoo with one of the elephants after a tornado, and her family was never found. She’s been raised at the zoo, and ever since has been able to talk to the wind. It took me a little while to figure out if this book was truly a contemporary fantasy or if Lex just thought she heard the wind, but things take an even stronger supernatural turn when Lex starts seeing a ghost who died in the tornado. She needs to unravel the mysteries of the ghost’s past to help make things right for her so the ghost can move on.

I think many kids will connect to Lex, who’s always felt like an outsider. She has her best friend Fisher, who also lives at the zoo, but most other kids and places outside the zoo feel overwhelming to her (kids tend to tease a girl who talks to the wind). The mysteries and the supernatural elements will keep kids turning the pages, and the intriguing cast of characters will keep them engaged. I found myself falling in love with everyone at the zoo, especially Lex’s guardian Roger. Themes of found family and friendship are woven into an intriguing plot, making for a fantastic MG read!

***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher for review purposes. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.*** 


Bite-Sized Reviews of Cinderella Is Dead, The Elephant’s Girl & New KidNew Kid by Jerry Craft
Illustrator: Jerry Craft
Series: New Kid #1
Published by Quill Tree Books on February 5, 2019
Genres: Middle Grade, Contemporary, Graphic Novel
Pages: 256
My content rating: MG (Some minor bullying)
My rating:
4.5 Stars

A graphic novel about starting over at a new school where diversity is low and the struggle to fit in is real.

Seventh grader Jordan Banks loves nothing more than drawing cartoons about his life. But instead of sending him to the art school of his dreams, his parents enroll him in a prestigious private school known for its academics, where Jordan is one of the few kids of color in his entire grade.

As he makes the daily trip from his Washington Heights apartment to the upscale Riverdale Academy Day School, Jordan soon finds himself torn between two worlds—and not really fitting into either one. Can Jordan learn to navigate his new school culture while keeping his neighborhood friends and staying true to himself?

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This graphic novel highlights how tough it can be to fit in when you’re one of the few kids of color at a prestigious school. Jordan would much rather go to art school than an academically-focused private school, but his mother wants his to have every opportunity in life and she’s sure that this is how he can get it. This graphic novel is wonderful because it points out all the big and small ways that Jordan (and his friends) are made to feel less than. It’s a great illustration of both micro and macro aggressions and can help people understand how those “little things” can cut deeply. Yet, the graphic novel doesn’t feel like a diatribe or a social justice handbook—the message is an overall positive one, and friendship and understanding prevail.

 


 

That’s it for now! Have you read any of these? What did you think?

14 Responses to “Bite-Sized Reviews of Cinderella Is Dead, The Elephant’s Girl & New Kid”

  1. Sam@wlabb

    One of the reasons I like reading middle grades “issues” books vs any other age group is because I have yet to come across one that seems preachy or heavy handed. I have heard great things about The New Kid and look forward to reading it at some point.

  2. Emily

    I thought the concept behind Cinderella is Dead was super interesting. Like you, I also enjoyed the book. However I also agree that a sequel would be nice, but mainly because I found the ending to be a little rushed. I expected the novel to carry out through a couple of books.

  3. Dianthaa

    I’m planning on giving Cinderella is Dead a try soon, thank you for the review. I recently read A Blade so Black, Riverland, Dragon Pearl and Catfishing on Catnet and really enjoyed them, so thinking I might try some more young books.

    Dianthaa recently posted: Top Ten Tuesday: Women in SFF

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