Elly led a charmed life.
Her stepmother treated her like a princess.
Her stepsisters showered her with bonbons and feathered hats.
Maids scrubbed the house till it shone, making sure Elly never had a single cinder under her manicured nails.
Elly and the Smelly Sneaker: A Riches to Rags Story is one of my absolute favorites of the many children's books I've read, lately. A tale that turns Cinderella on its head, Elly is a girl who is coddled by her stepmother and two stepsisters. They like to fuss over her, dress her up, throw parties for her. She doesn't have time to make friends with the neighborhood kids or play with them. They play baseball! That's what Elly wants to do most of all. At night, she sometimes sneaks outside to practice playing baseball on her own.
Then, one day, the family insists that Elly should go to the palace. The king has sent an open invitation but only one guest per household is allowed. Elly is frustrated. She's "... sick of fondues and froufrous!" She just wants to play ball.
Suddenly, her fairy godfather appears. He says a magic spell, "Bibbity, bobbity, BLECH!" The spell turns Elly's lovely outfit into a baseball uniform with smelly sneakers. She can play ball till noon, then her outfit will disappear, replaced by her fancy dress. She plays ball - and she's very good. All that practice has paid off. But, then she realizes it's nearly noon. As she runs off the pitcher's mound, a single sneaker is left behind, stuck in the dirt.
The next day, the coach goes in search of the owner of the smelly sneaker. He will make the owner of the sneaker his co-captain. Of course, Elly's stepmother is horrified when he shows up. But, the sneaker fits Elly perfectly and she pulls the other sneaker from her purse. Her stepmother is proud and the play on words that follows is doubly fun:
"Don't worry, Elly! You can still wear gloves . . . "
". . . and have a coach . . . "
". . . and you get to play on diamonds!"
And, like that, Elly becomes a normal girl who can play with friends, wear sneakers, and go to ball games.
Highly recommended - I absolutely love this story, in which girls are encouraged to do and be what they love and practice to become good at something. As soon as I closed the book, I got online and recommended it to a friend, so I've gotten a little feedback from a little girl who is much like Elly - she loves to play ball. She was a big fan of the book. I particularly loved the way Elly and the Smelly Sneaker takes the Cinderella story and flips it. The fairy godfather is hilarious (a substitute for Elly's fairy godmother, who's gone bungee jumping -- more female empowerment). The word play made me smile and the illustrations are perfect, with action nicely portrayed. Whether your child of any gender prefers to play ball or dress up, Elly and the Smelly Sneaker is a winner.
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