The Picture Book Buzz

Cinderelliot: A Scrumptious Fairytale - Perfect Picture Book Friday #PPBF

We've seen a number of TV and movie twists on the fairytale Cinderella (like Ella and Disney's 1997 version - such a diverse, star-studded cast) and a numerous picture book retellings where Cinderella is a spaceship mechanic (Interstellar Cinderella by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Meg Hunt), a chicken (Cinders: A Chicken Cinderella by Jan Brett), or a spunky neighbor (Cinder Edna by Ellen Jackson, illustrated by Kevin O'Malley). A fun new twist on this fairytale mixes together pastries and gender swapping, with a tiny bit of magic.

Cinderelliot: A Scrumptious Fairytale


Authors: Mark Ceilley & Rachel Smoka-Richardson


Illustrator: Stephanie Laberis


Publisher: Running Press Book Publishers (2022)


Ages: 4-8


Fiction


Themes:

Baking, LGBTQ+ fairytale, love, acceptance, and a dash of flamboyant magic.


Synopsis:

A gay retelling of the classic fairy tale—a scrumptious love story featuring ungrateful stepsiblings, a bake-off, and a fairy godfather.


Cinderelliot is stuck at home taking care of his ungrateful stepsister and stepbrother. When Prince Samuel announces a kingdom-wide competition to join the royal staff as his baker, the stepsiblings insist that Cinderelliot bake their entries, leaving no time for he, himself, to compete. Fairy Godfather Ludwig appears and magically helps Cinderelliot bake his best chocolate cake, clean up, and get to the competition via limo. At the bake-off, Prince Samuel falls in love with Cinderelliot's cake, but our hero has to run off as the clock strikes midnight, leaving behind his chef hat. The next day, Prince Samuel searches the kingdom for the owner of the hat and finds that it fits perfectly on Cinderelliot's head. The prince is delighted to find not only his new baker but also the man of his dreams, and Cinderelliot creates a magnificent wedding cake—and the two live scrumptiously ever after.


Opening Lines:

Cinderelliot loved to bake.

Every day he measured and mixed, chopped and kneaded.

He took pride in his pies, cakes, bars, and bread.


But Cinderelliot wished for more.

If only someone could love him as much as he loved baking.


What I Liked about this book:

It's always fun to find retellings of familiar fairytales. Especially ones that subtly address some of the issues of the original tales. Like Interstellar Cinderella, which takes the tale into outer space and empowers Cinderella to become the Prince's spacecraft mechanic (instead of his bride).


What if the story focused around a bake-off (instead of a ball) and included a gender bend to the tale? Well, you get a delicious tale sprinkled with a heaping helping of cooking terms, sprinkles, and a flamboyant fairy godfather.


With a delicious blending of scrumptious baked goods and a yearning for love, the colorful illustrations and text wonderfully introduce us to Cinderelliot; a very talented pastry chef. I love that Stephanie Laberis included an older couple, a mixed-race couple, and what could be two swans in the background, as Cinderelliot wishes he could find love.

Text © Mark Ceilley & Rachel Smoka-Richardson, 2022.


Image © Stephanie Laberis, 2022.


Instead of two mean step-sisters, Cinderelliot spends his days baking for his snaggled toothed step-siblings, Neville and Gertrude. Who, though they adore his cooking, don't offer Cinderelliot anything other than cruel demands for more treats. Mark Ceilley and Rachel Smoka-Richardson liberally sprinkle cooking terms (sliced and sifted) and names of pastries (cannoli and croissant) throughout the text, as Stephanie scatters flour, dough, and sprinkles around the illustrations.


When a Royal Baking Competition is announced (by a female page), it's no surprise when Neville and Gertrude's demand for desserts leave Cinderelliot "covered in batter" and facing a messy kitchen. Or that they leave him alone scrubbing the floor and wishing he could attend the competition.

Text © Mark Ceilley & Rachel Smoka-Richardson, 2022.


Image © Stephanie Laberis, 2022.


However, the appearance of his fairy godfather, bedecked in a pink and purple plaid suit, purple bowtie, and waving a cupcake topped wand exuding a swirl of sprinkles, is an unexpected fun twist. Unless...you spend some time looking at the fun end pages, or peek at the back cover, before reading the book.

Text © Mark Ceilley & Rachel Smoka-Richardson, 2022.


Image © Stephanie Laberis, 2022.


While a change of outfit (a chef's jacket and hat) and transportation (the loan of a pink cupcake limo) are provided, the actual baking of a stunning, triple layer, chocolate and strawberry masterpiece is solely Cinderelliot's own doing. Although his fairy godfather does magically clean the kitchen. I appreciate that the retelling focuses the prince's initial interest upon a skill, instead of simply one's appearance. As with most Cinderella tales and re-tellings the magic disappears at midnight. So the elements of instant chemistry with the prince, a wild dash from the palace, the dropping of the chef's hat, and a return to sadly baking for the mean step-siblings feel comfortably familiar.


I really enjoyed the lively, animated illustrations, as well as the images of delicious pastry creations. One thing that always amazed me about the original was that the prince didn't recognize anything about Cinderella (until her foot fit the slipper), even after gazing into her eyes for hours at the ball. Mark and Rachel offer a wonderful change, when, during the kingdom-wide search, Prince Samuel's eyes meet Cinderelliot's he knew - even before he put the chef's hat on his head - "It's you!"


Bending a familiar fairytale, this story mixes a dash of humor, a sprinkle of alliteration, and a pinch of sugar to create a delightful book about finding your own special love.


Resources:

- make your own chef's hat.


- try making your own chocolate mini-cake (cupcake) w/ sprinkles.


- how would you change the Cinderella fairytale? Write, or illustrate, your version of this fairytale. Why did you make certain changes?


If you missed the interview of Mark Ceilley & Rachel Smoka-Richardson on Monday, find it (here).


This post is part of a series by authors and KidLit bloggers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays. For more picture book suggestions see Susanna Leonard Hill's Perfect Picture Books.

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Maria Marshall

 Photograph © A. Marshall

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