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Ella's Big Chance: A Jazz-Age Cinderella
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Ella's Big Chance: A Jazz-Age Cinderella

really liked it 4.0  ·  Rating details ·  281 Ratings  ·  72 Reviews
The classic story of Cinderella gains even more charm in this glamorous retelling by world-famous picture book writer and illustrator Shirley Hughes.
Ella Cinders loves helping her father in his dress shop and laughing with her friend Buttons, the store's delivery boy. Then comes the terrible day when her father remarries and everything changes. Her stepmother makes her s
Hardcover, 48 pages
Published October 1st 2004 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (first published 2003)
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Oct 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Summary/A Thoughtful Review:
This version of Cinderella, set in the 1920's Jazz Era, tells the story of Ella Cinder, seamstress and daughter of dress shop owner, Mr. Cinder. After her mother died, she and her father have lived and worked happily together, along with their delivery boy and friend, Buttons. Ella and Buttons build a friendship, laughing, singing, and dancing together. In not to long, her father remarries an evil stepmother, Renee, who attempts to take over the family business, forc
Feb 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Annie and Chandra
4.5 Stars. I really liked this retelling! There's more than just the setting/era that is different, though... The ending had a definite twist! I admit that I wasn't that huge a fan of the illustrations, though I certainly appreciated their merit and they did fit nicely with the story. Also, I felt a tad bad for "Prince Charming" -- though I can't say why unless I spoil the ending for you!!! But, the story was told really beautifully--just a very warmhearted sort of tale and I absolutely loved th ...more
Feb 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-to-kiddos
A gorgeous twist on the classic Cinderella. The illustrations earned the Kate Greenway Medal for Children's Illustrations. The language is decadent, and the ending is fitting. The girls loved it, too. I did NOT, however, appreciate the evil stepmother being named Renee!
Agewen Stifford
The ending isn't like I always expected. AND I LOVE IT
Jan 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars

The illustrations in this picture book were beautiful (and award winning). I found this version of Cinderella to be a welcome departure from the earlier, more well-known versions. The twist at the end is likely more applicable to most people's lives and serves as an important message to all readers.
Jun 13, 2017 rated it liked it
My daughter and I both appreciated that the love she wanted was right there all along, and she had the ability to see it and accept it.
LH Johnson
May 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
There's a richness to everything Shirley Hughes produces, and it's this richness which comes to the forefront of Ella's Big Chance. This, as the front cover, states is 'a fairy tale retold'. It is a retelling of Cinderella, set in 'the jazz-age'. And it is practically glowing with riches.

Cinderella is such an archetypal story that it needs very little precis. It is the story of a girl, her wicked stepmother and a night on the town that Cinderella will never forget.

In this story, we meet Ella, th
Sara Check
Sep 15, 2011 rated it it was ok
1.The genre of this book is picture book, other.

2.Shirley Hughes has taken the story of Cinderella, that we all know too well and transposed it into the roaring twenties. Ella and her father are dressmakers and their lives are turned upside down by his new wife, Madame Renee, and her daughters. Ella works day and night sewing dresses but is kept smiling by her faithful company, Mr. Buttons, the doorman to their famous salon. Invitations to the “grand ball”, a visit from a Fairy Godmother and a b
Stephanie Gulliver
Summary: The story of Cinderella can be found in the jazz era from the book, Ella’s Big Chance. Ella is girl who works hard to create beautiful clothes for the clothing salon owned by her father and stepmother. While Ella is harassed by her stepsisters for her looks, she has Buttons. Buttons is the boy who stands as greeter for her father’s salon, and is someone she turns to for happiness while enduring her horrible life. When the announcement of a ball for the Duchess’ son comes around, everyon ...more
Kelli Varich
Feb 25, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: children-s-lit
The 20's has always been my favorite time period of American history to study. Anything Roaring 20's or Gatsby I instantly fall in love with -- which was the case with this retelling of the classic Cinderella story we all know and love. In this fractured version, Ella works in her fathers-- Mr. Cinders' -- dress shop. After her mother had died she became a better seamstress than her father ever could be. A young man named Buttons also worked in the shop, opening the door for customers and helpin ...more
Constance Cosmas
Feb 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Ella’s Big Chance: A Jazz-Age Cinderella shares many similarities and differences with the original version of Cinderella. This Kate Greenaway Medal winner published in 2004, tells the story of Mr. Cinder’s daughter, Ella, and her relationship with her wicked step mother and step sisters. Though Mr. Cinders doesn’t die in the text, he doesn’t help his daughter succeed either. However, with the help of some loyal friends and a fairy godmother, Ella prevails- but not in the way you expect! This bo ...more
Oct 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
Mr. Cinders owns a quiet dress shop, which he manages with his daughter, Ella, who happens to be quite the seamstress. Buttons, the doorman for their shop, is Ella's friend, entertaining her while she works. All goes well until Mr. Cinders remarries, to a baroness no less with two high-society daughters of her own, and Ella finds herself shunted to the basement with the gray cat while the baroness turns their shop into a salon. Their business booms, but nothing is left for Ella in terms of h
Ashton Livsey
Nov 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Genre: Traditional Children’s Picture Book
Summary: A new take on Cinderella shows the seamstress Ella slowly being treated badly and working harder to satisfy her new stepmother and stepsisters. The new aspects show that wealth is not the perfect recipe for love, and maybe you can find love in someone you don’t expect.
Critique: a) The illustrations in this book are wonderful and the story of this new-age Cinderella brings a new twist in this wonderful tale.
The illustrations in this book are do
Lisa Mason
Oct 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
1. Traditional

2. Ella’s Big Chance is a lovely adaptation of a traditional Cinderella story. Set in a big city around the time of the jazz age, the story contains the ugly step-sisters, the fairy godmother and the ball but incorporates a twist at the end. Once the handsome Duke discovers Ella’s identity she realizes her love, not for him, but for her best friend Buttons, a faithful and loving assistant at her father’s shop.

3. A. Illustrations B. The beautiful illustrations are done in gouache co
Feb 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Rife with bobs, crops and cloche hats, beads, bangles and silk, this refreshing Roaring Twenties rendition of the traditional tale swaps the limp, wincing minion for a spunky, talented and unflapperishly curvy Cinderella who, like another C-character we'll all be watching this weekend, understands that we really don't want everything we want.

You can listen in on our chat about this book on our Just One More Book! Children's Book Podcast.

More from the Jazz Era on

When Louis A
May 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Ella Cinders and her father enjoy a simple life during the 1920s working in his dress shop, along with their young deliveryman/doorman, Buttons. Mr. Cinders remarries and his new wife and 2 daughters (Ruby and Pearl) are very demanding. Ella is soon exhausted from slaving at her sewing machine, while her stepsisters are modeling the beautiful 1920’s style gowns Ella has designed. While Ella, her father and Buttons continue to slave away at the dress shop, her stepmother and stepsisters enjoy a r ...more
Feb 16, 2009 rated it liked it
Hughes, Shirley. 2003. Ella's Big Chance: A Jazz Age Cinderella.

Ella's Big Chance doesn't have much to do with jazz itself--though the illustrations clearly show the styles to be from the jazz age of fashion--but it does have everything to do with Cinderella. And with Valentine's Day less than twenty-four hours away, it is appropriate to review it now. There were things that I enjoyed about Ella's Big Chance. Things that disappointed me. And things that surprised me. I mean really surprised me a
Shirley Hughes transforms the Cinderella story with the glamour of the jazz age. Ella Cinders is a top-notch dress maker in her father's shop. Her father remarries a woman who changes everything at the shop making Ella's life much harder. The only source of happiness in her life is her friendship with Buttons, the loyal delivery boy at the shop, who would sing songs and dance with Ella to remind them of happier times. Ella manages to go to a special party where she meets the Duke and he falls in ...more
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The story of Cinderella gets another facelift as we look at a put-upon redhead slaving away in a couture shop for her mean stepmother and stepsisters. The energy of the Roaring Twenties as well as the beauty of the fabulous dress designs swirl through this story. Humanity, warmth and a touch of magic in the story are melded with gorgeous color illustrations and inset black-and-white miniature drawings accenting the action.

Clearly the illustrator knows her history when it comes to the fashion of
I truly love this version of the Cinderella story. I doubly loved the illustrations beginning with the Jazzy Cinderella on the front cover, to the graceful lady gliding down the grand staircase on the back cover and everything in between the pages. Shirley Hughes, has combined her ability to make the story new, and to illustrate to create a fabulous book. I like that this wasn’t the typical Cinderella. I love the new twists the doorman that helps her out, the bike becoming the carriage, and the ...more
Jamal Scott
Sep 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book mixed colorful combinations on a lot of the pages. The pictures look like scribbles on some of them especially the cover. On the inside there's an intro to the book. On each page there's text with pictures. At the end it gives you a little background about Shirley Hughes who is the writer and the illustrator.

This book is basically a remake of Cinderella. It has the whole story line but with a different character and story line of course. The main character is a girl named Ella Cinders.
May 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: younger-readers
Hughes retells the classic Cinderella story in a way that modernizes the tale (somewhat) and addresses many of the feminist concerns about the traditional versions. Ella is an accomplished seamstress and runs a successful dress shop with her father. Although Ella still has some magical help preparing for the ball, it is her personality that wins over the Duke, not merely her looks and radiant gown. Furthermore, Ella rejects the Duke’s proposal that would give her wealth and a life of ease in ord ...more
Um... AWESOME. I'm updating the "best read-aloud picture books" booklist right now and when I saw this title, I went downstairs immediately to look at it. In the first place, this was when I discovered Shirley Hughes (whose name I've heard, but that's about it). And it turns out, her illustrations are incredible. In the second place, I absolutely love the idea of a 1920s Cinderella story. And in the third place, I am not going to ruin the ending for you, but I will tell you that it was fantastic ...more
This retelling of the Cinderella story takes place in the Roaring '20s, in a large city, much like New York. Ella is a dressmaker, and the stepmother and stepsisters run her ragged in their dress shop. The fairy godmother makes her appearance, but a limosine stands in for the coach-and-four. And though Ella goes to the ball and does the whole glass-slipper thing, the ending is a bit different than you might expect, but altogether more satisfying.

Shirley Hughes' illustrations are colorful and br
Kayla Pollema
Mar 02, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: pbgs2
Ella's Big Chance is the story of Cinderella but this story is set in the Jazz-Age.
This book is done in a gouache color with the combined use of pen line. The look of the artwork is a combination o messy and detailed. Although the artwork looks a bit messy it has a cartoon like quality that is appealing to man readers. The layout of the pages is very organized and there are boarders around the text rather than pictures. Included in the box of text there is also some black and white pictures tha
Elizabeth Stange
Mar 29, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: book-selection
Cinderella was my favorite fairytale growing up! I loved the spin Hughes gave to this classic tale. I do think that it would have suited me better if I would have grown up in the Jazz-Age or known more about it. I would have been able to pick up on some of the time period pieces like the flapper dresses easier. However, this book would be a useful tool to use in the classroom if a teacher wanted to talk about the Jazz-Age and some of the aspects of it that can be found in the pages of this book.
Oct 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Cinderella was my favorite fairytale growing up! I loved the spin Hughes gave to this classic tale. I do think that it would have suited me better if I would have grown up in the Jazz-Age or known more about it. I would have been able to pick up on some of the time period pieces like the flapper dresses easier. However, this book would be a useful tool to use in the classroom if a teacher wanted to talk about the Jazz-Age and some of the aspects of it that can be found in the pages of this book.
I love Cinderella stories. I love original retellings. I have a daughter named Ella. So there were several reasons I was drawn to this book when I saw it at the library. It was fun to have Cinderella set in the 20's and to see how that changed the story, And this had a surprising twist at the that I liked quite a bit. The illustrations are also gorgeous and match the story well.
Mar 12, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-s-lit
If you are tired of the usual, sacchrine Cinderella then this jazz era story is for you. This story is anything but the typical Cinderella story with Ella Cinders depicted as a smart, buxom red head. In a refreshing twist, she discovers that true love does not lie with the wealthy Duke but rather with "Buttons", a friend who works in her shop and can always make her laugh. A terrific retelling of a classic fairy tale accompanied by lovely illustrations.
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Shirley Hughes is the illustrator of more than two hundred children’s books and has won many prestigious awards, including the Kate Greenaway Medal twice. She is the author-illustrator of DON'T WANT TO GO! and OLLY AND ME 1 2 3. She lives in London.
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“Privately he called them a couple of puffed-up, dressed-up, made-up, stuck-up, brainless parakeets.” 6 likes
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