A journey to free will and self-awareness "That fool of...

BEST BETS

February 07, 2002|By Tricia Bishop

A journey to free will and self-awareness

"That fool of a fairy Lucinda did not intend to lay a curse on me. She meant to bestow a gift. When I cried inconsolably through my first hour of life, my tears were her inspiration. Shaking her head sympathetically at Mother, the fairy touched my nose. `My gift is obedience. Ella will always be obedient. Now stop crying, child.' "

So begins Gail Carson Levine's book Ella Enchanted. The heroine, Ella, not only stopped crying, she stopped being able to resist any command at all. And now, at 15, she's powerless against orders - an affront to her independent nature and an obstacle she must overcome to live her life to its fullest.

The story is a familiar one - a retelling of the Cinderella tale - but its intelligent and progressive protagonist gives a little lift of spirit and spunk to the traditional damsel-in-distress role. Ella is not a helpless little waif waiting for her Prince Charming to rescue her from trouble, but more likely the type who'd rescue him from a jam.

Ella's journey toward free will, which begins as an expedition to find Lucinda, leads her not only to her prince and the requisite happy ending, but also to a self-awareness atypical of females in fairy tales. The monthly discussion group for kids 9 to 12 at the North Carroll Branch Library in Greenmount will talk about this self-awareness and other themes found in the novel at 6:45 p.m. Monday.

Registration is required, along with a good-faith effort to read the entire book (240 pages) before the meeting. 2255 Hanover Pike, 410-386-4488.

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