Sootypaws: A Cinderella Story
“the story follows the normal Cinderella trope until readers reach the unexpected climax, at which young readers get a fresh perspective on what living happily ever after can mean.”
Maggie Rudy’s latest book is an enchanting retelling of the beloved story of Cinderella. In Rudy’s version, our heroine is a mouse whose mother was eaten by a tabby cat. The unwise father married a rat who had two mean-spirited daughters. Not long afterward, he died.
Despite the cruelty shown to her by her stepfamily, Sootypaws, as the nasty stepsisters call her, remains kind and gentle, remembering to water the rose bush, giving crumbs from the table for the ants and fur from her comb to bluebird to line her nest. She even compliments the frog on his tadpoles.
In this story, instead of a fairy godmother intervening to get our heroine to the prince’s ball, it is these little kindnesses that motivate the rose bush, ants, and all the other creatures to help her. Readers will be charmed by Sottypaw’s rose petal ball gown trimmed with lace spun by a spider and the gift from the ants of a pair of “exquisite green slippers with heels made of rose thorns.” The bluebird gives feathers for a fan, and, “A great moth unfurled its velvet wings into a cloak . . .”
Droll humor (the blue-bellied lizards that volunteered to pull the apple coach, “showed off their muscles with some push-ups. . . .” enlivens the text as does Sootypaw’s flawed humanity, demonstrated by her muffled snort when she hears her stepmother tell the ratty daughters, “I’m sure you are as lovely as any in the kingdom.”
With minor variations, the story follows the normal Cinderella trope until readers reach the unexpected climax, at which young readers get a fresh perspective on what living happily ever after can mean.
The book is illustrated with Maggie Rudy’s signature photographed diorama scenes. These stage sets are peopled with handmade mice, rats, other small creatures, and flora from the natural world. Each character is clothed exquisitely and positioned in elaborately detailed tableaux. Rudy’s attention to detail and her creativity in transforming everyday items into props (a pair of broken wire-rimmed spectacles is the harness for the lizards) make studying each image a pleasure.