Reading Beauty (Deborah Underwood)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Reading Beauty, written by Deborah Underwood and illustrated by Meg Hunt, another futuristic fairy tale from the pair behind Interstellar Cinderella.

Princess Lex loves reading more than almost anything in the world. Any book of any size, any subject, any length – she’ll devour its contents eagerly before picking up the next title. So when she wakes the morning of her 15th birthday to find every book in the kingdom being packed away, she is aghast! Demanding an explanation from her parents, they tell her the story of the celebration of her birth, an evil fairy who was incensed about being uninvited, and a treacherous curse that will be brought on by a paper cut in her fifteenth year. Bereft in a world without books – and seeing how their disappearance has negatively impacted her kingdom as well – Lex decides to fight the curse herself, using the most powerful weapon at her disposal: knowledge.

Marvelous! Once again, Underwood and Hunt have taken a familiar fairy tale and infused it with both futuristic pizzaz and a strong feminist message. Clever tweaks made to the story both pay homage to the original while giving it a much-needed update; Lex’s “prince”, for instance, is her loyal and trusty dog, Prince. The art is phenomenal, and Hunt’s Afro-futurist environments and details make this an even more inclusive treat (a particularly lovely visual in which Lex’s father does her hair to comfort her as her mother explains the curse was my favorite). The length was perfect, and rhyming text was clever and fun to read aloud, and JJ loved it. A wonderful girl-power story for any young book-lover, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

Interstellar Cinderella (Deborah Underwood)

Hey there, everyone! Today’s book is an awesome girl-power twist on a classic children’s story: Interstellar Cinderella, written by Deborah Underwood and illustrated by Meg Hunt, a sci-fi spin on the Cinderella tale.

Cinderella dreams of one day being a ship’s mechanic. Every day, she toils for her wicked stepmother and stepsisters, fixing their robots around the house, but by night she reads manuals and dreams of repairing rockets. With a little help from her fairy Godrobot, she is able to attend the royal rocket parade and, while there, impresses the prince when his rocketship breaks down. They talk about ships until midnight, when she dashes home. Hoping to find the girl with the mechanical know-how, the prince sets out to test the skills of the ladies of the land – but will Cinderella’s wicked stepmother keep her from proving her worth?

We LOVED this book. It’s a perfect update on the Cinderella tale, with a heroine who is capable, talented, and far more than just pretty (the prince falls for her without ever seeing her face, due to her spacesuit)! I especially loved that it was Cinderella’s mechanical skills that prove her identity, not just a shoe fitting. And lastly, I loved that romance was not the focus: after the prince proposes, Cinderella politely declines, saying that she is far too young to be married. She instead asks to be his chief mechanic, which he happily accepts. It shows young readers that their dreams beyond love or marriage are valid, important and achievable. Add in some gorgeously colorful graphic art illustrations, a fantastic length for all ages, fun rhyming text, and the fact that JJ loved it, and this one is emphatically Baby Bookworm approved!