Written by Deborah Underwood
Illustrated by Meg Hunt
Published by Chronicle Books LLC (2015)
As a contributor for SciFi4Me and lover of nerdy stuff, I accidentally subject my daughter to a lot of geek media. Because she’s 5 now, she’s also had a life filled with fairy tales and cute cartoons with a message. The natural marriage of those concepts comes crashing together in Deborah Underwood’s poetic and nerdy Interstellar Cinderella.
I got this book in 2015 from a close friend, in the hope that the kid and I could have nerdy story time together. I loved the cover art from the start and was immediately struck by the small details put into the experience. From the inside cover filled with space-like tools (what the heck is an antimatter hammer, anyway?) to the creative designs of the aliens, the atmosphere is spot on.
As any parent can attest, the pictures alone really don’t make the book experience for you, but the readability – or, rather, re-readability. Fortunately, Interstellar Cinderella falls into the sublimely Seussian realm of perfect rhymes, even with silly words. Subsequent re-reads never seem to get old, and the better you get to know it, the more you can enjoy the pictures while you read.
So, what is it that makes this stand out for my daughter? I don’t really know, to be honest. We love space, we love robots, and we love fairy tales, but we’ve also seen this type of adaptation fail before. There’s some element specific to Underwood’s rhymes with Meg Hunt’s illustrations that forms a perfect sensory storm. A large portion of the text itself is dedicated to spoken lines of five of the central characters, so character voices are a great way to make the short story come alive.
Copyright Deborah Underwood, Meg Hunt
Boy, what a story! We all know the basics of Cinderella, I’m sure – girl has dad, dad meets lady, lady (and daughters) mistreat girl, girl meets prince, zany antics ensue. The best thing about this book is that it cuts out exactly what isn’t necessary in order to highlight the story, in order to better fit in the elements that make it different. Cinderella dreams of fixing rockets, with her android mouse Murgatroyd to keep her company. There are stars, there are rockets, and on top of all of it, there’s a message. Does Cinderella give up her dreams of fancy rockets for a place at her prince’s arm? Not exactly…but the twist can satisfy just as well.
All told, we’ve had this book right around two years, and it gets read at least one night a week – as well as some afternoons, the occasional morning, and once in awhile during the bath. There are a lot of books at our house, and not all of the ones we share are kid-specific book, but Interstellar Cinderella stands out as one of the rare examples of a kids book that I still adore. It goes down as not only one of the best gifts that has been given, but also a book I look forward to using as ongoing staple in our house.