cover image Cindy Ellen: A Wild Western Cinderella

Cindy Ellen: A Wild Western Cinderella

Susan Lowell. Joanna Cotler Books, $17.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-06-027446-7

Lowell (The Three Little Javelinas) takes a fairy-tale heroine away from the hearth and gives her a home on the range--and teaches readers a thing or two about moxie. Freckle-faced Cindy Ellen, a rancher's daughter, mends fences and mucks out the corral, but her new stepmother (who is ""meaner than a rattlesnake"") and two nasty stepsisters do not a lick of work. Cindy isn't allowed to attend a rich neighbor's two-day rodeo and square-dance extravaganza--that is, until her fairy godmother wields her magical golden six-gun, yelling, ""Hit the trail, honey! Remember, there ain't no horse that can't be rode and there ain't no man that can't be throwed!"" Lowell's savory slang adds punch to this tale, which stresses the fairy godmother's message that ""magic is plumb worthless without gumption."" Manning (The Witch Who Was Afraid of Witches) enhances this rawhide-and-lace fantasy in illustrations lush with cactus-flower colors and pale maize gold. Cindy's strawberry-blond tresses float in the desert breeze; her diamond spurs (which fit only her tiny boots) twinkle as she tames a wild horse and then dances the grand sashay with cowboy Joe Prince. An endnote speaks to the role of cowgirls in the West and the modern rodeo. Ages 4-8. (May)