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Bella at Midnight Hardcover – March 28, 2006


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: HarperColl (March 28, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060775734
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060775735
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 6.3 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,981,048 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 5-8–Left by her father, an arrogant and unpleasant knight, to be raised by her wet nurse after her mothers death, Bella is an imaginative and attractive child whose best friend is the wet nurses 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 mothers 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
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*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. Ilene Cooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

More About the Author

Diane Stanley is the author and illustrator of more than fifty books for children, noted especially for her series of picture book biographies. SHAKA: KING OF THE ZULUS was named a New York Times Best Illustrated Book; LEONARDO DA VINCI received the Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction from the National Council for Teachers of English. Ten of her books have been honored as "Notable Books" by the American Library Association and she has twice received both the Boston Globe/Hornbook Award and the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators' Golden Kite Award. She is the recipient of the Washington Post/Children's Book Guild Award for Nonfiction for the body of her work.

She lives in Santa Fe, NM. Visit her website at dianestanley.com.

Customer Reviews

There's something wonderful about Cinderella stories.
E. R. Bird
The character development is a little flat even though Stanley has chosen to break up the narration into different characters for every chapter.
Karusichan
In all, it was a fun read, and, though I think it's best for girls ages 8-12, people of any age can enjoy this book. 
My Full Bookshelf Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Karusichan on August 11, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Isabel (Bella) is an unlucky girl. At the time of her birth her mother died and her father, having loved her mother passionately, abandoned Isabel to her Aunt Maud for care. Maud placed her in a foster home, that of the Lady Beatrice (former wet nurse of the crown Prince of Moranmoor) and her husband, Martin, and son Will, and later a daughter named Margaret. Bella grew up in relative peace and comfort, never knowing that she owed her birth to a heartless knight. As she aged she grew friendly with the Prince of Moranmoor, Julian, who always called her a Princess despite her station and once gave her a thimble in a game of the faerie castle that he and Will invented for her.

Despite her pleasant upbringing there is still unhappiness brewing in the land of Moranmoor. Moranmoor has been at war with the neighboring kingdom, Brutanna, for years. Bella sees much strife in her quaint life. But suddenly peace has come to pass with the signing of a treaty between the two rivals. Unfortunately Prince Julian, as the king's youngest son, must go in to the palace of Brutanna as an amicable hostage so that peace might be ensured for the nations, but not before he mistreats Bella in a rather upsetting manor.

Shortly after Isabel's Aunt comes to fetch her. Her father has asked for her, and as such Bella has to be returned to a household she has never known. Her father has remarried a woman named Matilda who has two daughters, snobbish Marianne and mute Alice, who is still grieving the death of their father at sea. Not knowing what to do with a girl raised by peasants Bella is placed in the kitchens for lack of finesse as Marianne is placed at court. Every visit she brings a bit of gossip back home with her and one day Bella learns that Julian's life is in danger.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on May 17, 2006
Format: Library Binding
Hello, Diane Stanley. You're looking well today. Could it be the result of a new haircut? A new shirt? Or could it be the fact that you've just written a work of fiction that is getting resounding, unending, and universal applause? I think that might be the case. You look at "Bella At Midnight" and you don't exactly know what to think. It's a nice cover and all, but is it any good? Well, there's a starred review of it in Kirkus, a starred review of it in Booklist, and a starred review of it in School Library Journal. So, yes, it is indeed good. More importantly, it does something that I would have seriously doubted possible until this time. It takes that old chestnut of a Cinderella myth, pumps it full of new life and vitality, and sends it spinning off into the ether like some kind of newfangled original tale. I still had qualms with some aspects of the storytelling, but for three-dimensional characters, magnificent plotting, and a great bit of writing through and through, "Bella At Midnight" is near impossible to beat.

The child was unwanted. Her mother had died in childbirth and her father wanted nothing to do with her, so unbalanced was he by his wife's death. So it was that Isabel (nicknamed Bella) was taken from her father's home and tended to by a peasant wetnurse by the name of Beatrice who had lately tended to the prince himself. Prince Julian, the third son in his family, often comes back to visit this wetnurse of his, and over the years it becomes clear that the person he seeks most often on his visits is Bella. But it isn't until Bella is a teenager that she is told the truth about herself. The peasant family who has loved her all these years? Not her family.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Kelly Mom of 2 on March 22, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is so great. I could hardly put it down. I am a mom, an English Major, and an Elementary School teacher who loves a good read. This was fantastic. It would be great for an English teacher who is teaching point of view. I read it for fun because I am always looking for good books to read to my daughters and students. Read it -- You'll be glad you did!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The story itself wasn't bad, though very predictable and somewhat boring at times. What really annoyed me, however, was the writing itself. There were exclamation points at the end of almost every freaking sentence, until I was ready to just throw to book away across the room. Seriously.
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Format: Paperback
It never fails to amaze me that there are so many retellings of Cinderella, and yet each one is so unique from the other. This one was for younger readers, but teens can still enjoy it as well. Bella captured me from the very beginning, and, though I can't say I could identify with her--she IS Cinderella after all, the author wrote in such a way that I 'felt' her emotions. This book wasn't all Cinderella, either--there were a lot of unique things in here never mentioned in the original fairy tale, so readers won't know exactly how the book ends. In all, it was a fun read, and, though I think it's best for girls ages 8-12, people of any age can enjoy this book.

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By |Karma| on January 30, 2012
Format: Paperback
This is about a girl named Bella whose mother died right after giving birth to her and Bella was sent to live with a nurse maid. Bella only knows the life of a peasant and thinks the nurse is her real mom but when Bella turns thirteen her real father wants her back and it turns out she's the daughter of a knight. She lives with her stuffy, cruel father for two years but one day when her stepmother locks her in a closet for yelling Bella decides to run away.

With the help of one of her stepsisters she leaves the house by midnight. She goes far away to Brutanna where her friend the royal prince lives. She warns him of a battle coming to Brutanna. When the battle starts a prophecy is fulfilled. A knight in white armor rides between the two armies with a white banner of peace and halo of heavenly fire.

The war that's been going on for a hundred years is finally over. The prince searches for Bella but can't find her and fears she is dead. Will they ever be together again?

Originally posted on 3 Book Bees Blog
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