Ella Enchanted - By Gail Carson Levine
The Curse of Obedience...
Anyone could control me with an order. It had to be a direct command, such as
"Put on a shawl," or "You must go to bed now." A wish or a request had no effect. I was free to ignore "I wish you would put on a shawl," or "Why don't you go to bed now?" But against an order I was powerless.
If someone told me to hop on one foot for a day and a half, I'd have to do it.
And hopping on one foot wasn't the worst order I could be given. If you commanded me to cut off my own head, I'd have to do it.
I was in danger at every moment.
How can a fairy's blessing be such a curse?
At her birth, Ella of Frell was the unfortunate recipient of a foolish fairy's gift -
- the "gift" of obedience. Ella must obey any order given her, whether it's hopping on one foot for a day and a half, or chopping off her own head! But strong-willed Ella does not tamely accept her fate. Against a bold backdrop of princess, ogres, giants, wicked stepsisters, and fairy godmothers, Ella goes on a quest to break the curse -- once and for all.
"A thoroughly enchanting novel that deepens and enriches the original tale."
--- School Library Journal
"As finely designed as a tapestry, with a heroine so spirited that she wins readers'
"Plenty of humorous twists and a spunky, intelligent female lead." (Pointer review)
--- Kirkus Review
A NEWBERY HONOR BOOK
Notable Children's Book of 1998 (ALA)
1998 Best Books for Young Adults (ALA)
1998 Quick Picks for Young Adults (ALA)
Best Books of 1997 ( School Library Journal)
Best Books of 1997 ( Publishers Weekly)
GAIL CARSON LEVINE grew up in New York City and has been writing all her life. In high school, her poems were published in two anthologies of teenage poetry. She and her husband, David, collaborated on a children's musical that was produced by a theater in Brooklyn. Today, she, David, and their Airedale, Jake, live in a two-hundred-year-old farmhouse in Brewster, New York. ELLA ENCHANTED is her first book for children.
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."
Father was away on a trading expedition as usual, but our cook, Mandy, was there. She and Mother were horrified, but no matter how they explained it to Lucinda, they couldn't make her understand the terrible thing she'd done to me. I could picture the argument: Mandy's freckles standing out sharper than usual, her frizzy gray hair in disarray, and her double chin shaking with anger; Mother still and intense, her brown curls damp from labor, the laughter gone from her eyes.
I couldn't imagine Lucinda. I didn't know what she looked like.
She wouldn't undo the curse.
My first awareness of it came on my fifth birthday. I seem to remember that day perfectly, perhaps because Mandy told the tale so often.
"For your birthday," she'd start, "I baked a beautiful cake. Six layers."
Bertha, our head maid, had sewn a special gown for me. "Blue as midnight with a white sash. You were small for your age even then, and you looked like a china doll, with a white ribbon in your black hair and your cheeks red from excitement."
In the middle of the table was a vase filled with flowers that Nathan, our manservant, had picked.
We all sat around the table. (Father was away again.) I was thrilled. I had watched Mandy bake the cake and Bertha sew the gown and Nathan pick the flowers.
Mandy cut the cake. When she handed me my piece, she said without thinking,
The first bite was delicious. I finished the slice happily. When it was gone, Mandy cut another. That one was harder. When it was gone, no one gave me more, but I knew I had to keep eating. I moved my fork into the cake itself.
"Ella, what are you doing?" Mother said.
"Little piggy." Mandy laughed. "It's her birthday, Lady. Let her have as much as she wants." She put another slice on my plate.
I felt sick, and frightened. Why couldn't I stop eating?
Swallowing was a struggle. Each bite weighed on my tongue and felt like a sticky mass of glue as I fought to get it