(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Levine follows glass slippers through her first children's novel, Ella Enchanted. Complications in this modern retelling of the familiar Cinderella story arise because a fairy creates the heroine's dilemma, her godmother refuses to help, and with no knight on a white horse galloping up to save her, Ella has to solve her own problem.

Lucinda, the fairy, has bestowed the gift of obedience on Ella. She must obey any specific command directed at he—even if it is to cut off her head or jump into the frying pan. Rather than sit helplessly by the fireplace ruing her fate, Ella squirms rebelliously in the curse's grip. She uses her words and wit to retaliate against her thoughtless or unkind taskmasters. Finally she sets out to find Lucinda to ask release from the curse.

Ella weaves her way through unsympathetic parents, the wicked stepmother, Dame Olga, and her callous father, Sir Peter of Frell. She outwits Hattie, her venomous stepsister, and captures ogres. Along the way she enchants Prince Charmont with her sense of humor and resourcefulness. She distances herself and her affliction from Charmont's growing affection until three masked balls are held in his honor.

She uses borrowed dresses, a pumpkin coach, and rodent coachmen to be near him. Unmasked by Hattie, Ella flees. But the Prince finds her and orders her to reveal her true feelings. Fearful her obedience could endanger both the man of her dreams and her country, she...

(The entire section is 261 words.)