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Little Willow
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Cindy Ella by Robin Palmer

All of her life, Cindy Ella Gold has been aware that her name reminds people of the fairy tale. However, she's not an storybook princess; she's a high school student. When sophomore Cindy writes an 'anti-prom' letter to the editor that gets published in her school paper, most of her prom-obsessed classmates (and even some of her teachers!) are shocked and appalled. Luckily, Cindy's friends and family support her to different degrees, even those who are planning on going to the prom themselves. Before this contemporary comedy is through, Cindy finds another way and another reason to celebrate.

Cindy Ella, Robin Palmer's debut novel, is a modern-day realistic Cinderella story without the fantasy elements. Instead of battling her evil stepmother, Cindy battles her frizzy hair. She doesn't have a horrible home life. In fact, even though she doesn't share their priorities, she gets along fairly well with her father, her half-brother, her stepmother, and her stepsisters. The latter are fraternal twins, popular at their school, anxious to get custom-made dresses for prom. Cindy's friends, peace-and-yoga-loving India and suave eighties film buff Malcolm, offer plenty of tongue-in-cheek commentary about the City of Angels and their affluent classmates. While the main characters acknowledge their wealth and the advantages it provides, Cindy herself prefers flip-flops to pricey shoes and doesn't care at all for shopping.

All in all, a fun read. The easily-flustered title character has plenty of embarrassing moments which will endear her to readers. Instead of scrubbing floors or waiting for her fairy godmother to appear, Cindy baby-sits her younger brother, hangs out with her friends, crushes on senior Adam Silver, and chats with her online pal BklynBoy. (Cindy describes her correspondence with BklynBoy as an "e-lationship." I love that.) She's an L.A. girl, yes, but she's very much an awkward teen, stumbling over her own feet rather than coveting glass slippers. Never aspiring for beauty or a crown makes Cindy a real winner. Recommended for fans of The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot or the Lizzie McGuire television series.

Personal Note: The only heels I own are my tap shoes. If someone offered me glass slippers, I'd probably respond, "May I have ballet slippers instead, please?"

Related Booklists: Fairy Tales Retold, Prom

Read my interview with Robin.

Visit author Robin Palmer's official website!
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