Cinderella Smith

Common Sense Media says

Spirited tap-dancing girl loses her shoe but not her spunk.





What parents need to know

Educational value

This story offers good life lessons for kids just beginning to find their own selves -- for example, how to balance what is important in your family with what is acceptable among your friends. It also offers a look at basic problem solving. Classroom kids work in groups looking for an effective process for solving a math problem, and Cinderella and her friend Erin try to figure out how to tell if the new stepsisters are wicked or not. Setting up a plan and keeping a journal are part of both situations. Also, Cinderella toys with challenging vocabulary and clever idioms.

Positive messages

A few of the second graders are beginning to be a little cliquish, but they seem snobby and mean, and are not looked up to by the other kids. Except for that small group (the "Rosemary's"), the other kids, especially the other girls, help each other out and have fun together. Finding a way to stand up for oneself while not hurting another person's feelings is the goal. And that works out best for everyone.

Positive role models

Cinderella and Erin are independent, creative second grade girls who struggle with embarrassment and hurt feelings but learn to stand up for themselves and roll with the daily ups and downs. Rather than plotting revenge or wallowing in unhappiness when something bugs them, they help each other solve their problems. Also, Cinderella's family values her independent spirit.

Violence & scariness
Not applicable

This book has only positive lessons about language usage. In one instance, one of the mean Rosemary's tells Cinderella what she's doing is "stupid." Cinderella is horrified, because in her house, that is considered an "extremely mean and off-limits word."

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this is not a retelling of the traditional Cinderella fairytale. True, this Cinderella does lose her shoe (more than once), and that does add to her problems. But there are no princes, pumpkins, or fairy godmothers involved. This is a growing-up tale of a spunky second grade girl who is figuring out how to fit in with family and friends as they all go through inevitable changes. Though not all the loose ends are connected, there is nothing objectionable or particularly complicated about the story, and it would be a good chapter book for younger school-age readers. A sequel will be published in April 2012. 

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What's the story?

Part dancer, part detective, part your typical klutzy kid, Josephine-Katherine Smith (called Cinderella because she has the habit of losing just one of her shoes) is a little out of step with a few of her dance class friends, who are also her second grade classmates. They are becoming cliquish and a bit too obsessed with piercing their ears and shopping. Cinderella doesn't fit in with them like she used to, and she is not sure what to do about it. When she gets the lead in the dance recital, things look a bit rosier ... that is until she loses yet another shoe, this time her new red tap shoe. One moment she wavers between embarrassment and hurt feelings; the next moment she feels funny and strong. Luckily, she and the new girl become friends, linked together by their spunky spirits, creative independence, and love of adventure. They both have problems to solve, and together they make life work.

Is it any good?


Cinderella Smith has an indominatable spirit, and a voice to go with it. That, and the author's ability to make that voice sound so natural, is exactly what makes CINDERELLA SMITH a winner. A few issues are not addressed, or only partially solved, but overall the story hangs together well and offers good lessons, an entertaining adventure, and a realistic glimpse into the life of a spunky second grader in the throes of changes brought on by just plain growing up.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about peer pressure and what to do when what friends think is important conflicts with family values. Getting their ears pierced was a big thing among Cinderella's friends, but Cinderella's mother thought her daughter was too young. What problem did that cause? How did Cinderella feel, and what do you think about the solution?

  • Why do you think Cinderella had mixed feelings when she was walking to school, holding the hands of her family? Have you had any moments when you felt caught in a similar situation? How did you manage the moment?

  • Do you think the author's pen-and-ink cartoon-like drawings add to the story? Do you like this kind of artwork, or more realistic illustrations? Why?

  • Do you see any similarities between this story and the fairytale of Cinderella? What role does the shoe play in the outcome of each story?

Book details

Author:Stephanie Barden
Illustrator:Diane Goode
Genre:Coming of Age
Topics:Great girl role models
Book type:Fiction
Publication date:April 26, 2011
Number of pages:148
Publisher's recommended age(s):8 - 12
Read aloud:8 - 12
Read alone:8 - 12

This review of Cinderella Smith was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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