Let's face it; Ella Enchanted is still the story of Cinderella, albeit with a twist. Some of your boys (and perhaps some of your girls as well) are going to roll their eyes and complain as soon as they realize this—there's no getting around it. However, you can help quell the groaning by giving them a heads-up that this version contains ogres, giants, and elves; a bit of fighting; and lots of magic. It's not all girly—and there are certainly no singing mice sewing dresses. Although the love story still remains intact, it's not as corny as the original, and there are tons of twists to keep you turning pages—we promise.
The original Cinderella chose to obey orders all of the time; Ella, on the other hand, is cursed with having to obey, thanks to the worst birthday gift, like, ever. Therefore, Ella's got it way worse than the average teen or pre-teen today. This theme of obedience should make for some really interesting discussions with your students since it's totally relevant to their lives today. Your students are still struggling with the choice to obey or not obey their parents (and teachers, as you well know). What would life be like if they had no choice in the matter? Now, that's something we can all collectively lament about. Although parents and teachers might dream of a day where children all obeyed their every command, the truth is, taking away people's free will and forcing them to obey is no way to go.
We admit, there isn't much to say about the action factor in Cinderella stories. Ella pretty tame in terms of violence, sex, or swearing. Score 1 for Concerned Parents and Administrators, but no points for amping up your less-than-interested students.
But there must be a reason why Cinderella's story is still told today in some form or another in almost every culture around the world—and why people continue to draw on her story for inspiration today. At its heart, Cinderella is a story of friendship, love, and figuring out who you really are. Cinderella in all of her forms needs to overcome obstacles in order to stay true to who she really is and find her happily-ever-after. And that, our friends, is something that will resonate with readers—both girls and boys, even if they don't care to admit it—throughout the ages.