Gail Carson Levine’s retelling of Cinderella builds on the classic fairytale’s premise, delivering a fantasy adventure about a young woman fighting for her own free will. After being cursed as a baby with the “gift” of obedience, which results in a childhood defined by her literal inability to refuse commands, Ella challenges her fate and embarks on a quest to advocate for herself. She finds that selflessness, and self-worth, can be more powerful than magic. In a story that extends its world to fairies, ogres and elves, and includes a sweet romantic plot, Levine crafts a suspenseful coming-of-age tale that simultaneously challenges traditional female roles. The beloved 1997 novel went on to win the Newbery Medal and inspired the 2004 movie by the same name starring Anne Hathaway. —Madeleine Carlisle

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