Reviews for Bella At Midnight : The Thimble, The Ring, And The Slippers Of Glass

Booklist Reviews 2006 February #1
/*Starred Review*/ Gr. 5-8. Stanley subtly twists strands of the Cinderella story until it's something quite new and fine. A baby girl, Bella, is born to a mother who dies in childbirth. Bella's furious father sends her away to be raised among peasants, where she is befriended by Julian, a prince, a fourth son who has no place in his family. When they are both teenagers, Julian treats Bella cruelly; then he is sent away to a warring kingdom as a hostage for peace. Soon after, Bella is recalled by her father and finds herself unhappily living with him and his new family, including a stepsister who is a handmaiden at the palace. It is from this young woman that Bella learns about an invasion that will bring about Julian's death, which Bella is determined to prevent. Each character steps forward to tell pieces of the story, a device that enlivens the tale (though in one or two instances, it's hard to distinguish between the voices of Bella and her stepsister). What raises this above other re-created fairy tales is the quality of the writing, dotted with jeweled description and anchored by the strong values--loyalty, truth, honor.Stanley helps readers understand nobility, not in the sense of aristocracy, but as it signifies dignity and decency. The gilt-and-red book jacket makes the book look like a wrapped present. ((Reviewed February 1, 2006)) Copyright 2006 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2006 Fall
In this nuanced reworking of the Cinderella story, rotating narrators allow Stanley to tell the story of Bella, born to an evil man and his delicate wife, as well as the stories of Bella's stepmother and stepsisters. Bella's brave heart leads her into a final adventure that keeps the pages turning and reunites her with her prince for a satisfying conclusion. Copyright 2006 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2006 #2
Glass slippers, a beautiful gown, and a prince all make an appearance in this nuanced reworking of the Cinderella story. Rotating narrators give a multidimensional view of how Bella, born to an evil man and his delicate wife, grows up to be the fiercely loving, brave young woman who saves a kingdom at war. The first narrator is Maud, her aunt and godmother, who describes putting the infant Bella, after her mother dies in childbirth, in the care of a peasant family. There Bella meets her prince (his wet nurse was her foster mother). Along with Bella's story comes the parallel account of how her eventual stepmother and stepsisters come to live at her father's house. The changing narrators allow Stanley to depict Bella's stepfamily not as simple villains but as three women with their own stories of suffering and hardship -- stories in some ways more compelling than that of Bella and Prince Julian. Still, Bella's brave heart leads her into a final adventure that keeps the pages turning and reunites her with her prince for a satisfying conclusion. Copyright 2006 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2006 April #1
Stanley sets her lovely fairytale in a place like England in a time possibly medieval. She takes her tropes and occasionally her language from Shakespeare and from folklore, most notably Cinderella and the Arthurian legends (with a touch of Jeanne d'Arc), but her story runs in a clear, sparkling new stream. Isabel-Bella-is left motherless at birth, and her coldhearted father, Edward of Burning Wood, casts her aside. A caring aunt sees that she is raised with the family of a blacksmith whose mother was also wet nurse to the young prince Julian. Edward calls Bella back when he remarries, but his new wife, herself once widowed under painful circumstances, has her own daughters to protect. The kingdom's fragile peace is greatly threatened by treachery, and Bella, now 16, must find a way to keep Julian from being sacrificed and a terrible war from breaking out once again. Stanley deftly spins her various threads into a gossamer narrative that shimmers both brightly and darkly, made richer by Ibatoulline's embellishments. Once begun, it will be hard to put down. (Fiction. 10-14) Copyright Kirkus 2006 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2006 April #1

Stanley (A Time Apart ) refashions Cinderella into a tale of intrigue set during the Middle Ages. The story unfolds from multiple points of view but focuses on Bella, a child of noble birth, who is given to a wet nurse by her grieving father after her mother's death in childbirth, and left there. After spending 13 happy years with this loving foster family and befriending a young prince named Julian (who had the same nurse), Bella is summoned back to her father, who has taken a second wife. Distraught by an unfamiliar household, run by her resentful new stepmother and two stepsisters, Bella grows terribly homesick and eventually learns that her Prince Julian, is in grave danger. She risks her life to warn the prince that there is a plot against him. With touches of magic and romance, the novel has the appeal of a fairy tale, but also offers a generous supply of suspense and a well-researched presentation of Medieval social structures, revealing the chasm that exists between classes and the fragile bridges that form between nobility, merchants and peasants. Stanley also adds a feminist twist: like the Cinderella of old, Bella rises above her circumstances, is aided by a fairy godmother figure and even receives a gift of glass slippers. But unlike Cinderella, she is proactive in seeking out her prince and manages to single-handedly bring about an end to a decades-long war. Ages 10-up. (Mar.)

[Page 75]. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

School Library Journal Reviews 2006 March

Gr 5-8 -Left by her father, an arrogant and unpleasant knight, to be raised by her wet nurse after her mother's death, Bella is an imaginative and attractive child whose best friend is the wet nurse's previous charge, Prince Julian of Moranmoor. It is not until her father summons her that she is told that the loving people with whom she has spent her childhood are not her true family. She finds his household miserable, her new stepmother unwelcoming, and no place to sleep but the kitchen. Using familiar ingredients including a pair of glass slippers and a magic ring as well as the legend of a Worthy Knight with a halo of heavenly fire, Stanley has brewed a magical elixir that will warm the hearts of readers who like their adventures set in medieval worlds, and who appreciate a bit of a love story as well. Bella is a worthy heroine, capable in the kitchen and courageous enough to journey to a foreign land to warn Prince Julian and attempt to forestall the reopening of the war between Moranmoor and Brutanna. As a bonus, she has inherited her mother's magic touch that comforts all who come in contact with her-a gift that she hardly needs to accomplish her political task but that revives the spirits of a stepsister, still mourning her own father. More than a reworking of the familiar, this is a 21st-century fairy tale, thoroughly enjoyable in its own right.-Kathleen Isaacs, Towson University, MD

[Page 230]. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

VOYA Reviews 2006 February
Multiple voices recount a fine twist on the Cinderella story from this famed children's author. Infant Isabel, rejected by her father after her mother's death, is fostered by a loving peasant family and befriends Prince Julian, the royal child her foster mother nursed. Both of their lives are cruelly disrupted when Julian is sent as hostage to the court of his father's enemy, and Bella's father demands her return now that he has remarried a widow with two daughters. Alas, Bella is relegated to the kitchen ashes by her newfound family, but she learns something alarming from stepsister Marianne, a lady of the court. Treachery is afoot and Julian is in danger, so intrepid Bella disguises herself as a boy, and with the aid of her mother's sister-also her godmother-an enchanted emerald, and a special pair of glass slippers, she sets off to stop a war and rediscover loyalty, love, and a surprising new identity Fans of fairy tale retellings will enjoy the fanciful twists in familiar territory, and long remember this engaging heroine, destined for a happily-ever-after life.-Mary Arnold. PLB $16.89. ISBN 0-06-077574-2. 4Q 4P M Copyright 2006 Voya Reviews.