From School Library Journal
PreSchool-Grade 3-Numerous "Cinderella" variants abound, including John L. Steptoe's Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters (HarperCollins, 1987), and Robert San Souci's Cendrillon: A Caribbean Cinderella (S & S, 1998), but none so distinctly African American as in this version, which draws on the gospel music tradition. Set in a southern swamp, it has the usual elements of a poor, persecuted young girl and mean stepmother and stepsisters. But instead of a prince looking for his princess, a mother, Queen Rhythm, looks for a Daughter of Rhythm to take her place in the Great Gospel Choir. A convention is held to find that one special voice. The prince here is the choir's piano-playing Prince of Music. Cinderella, of course, turns out to be the long-lost daughter of Queen Rhythm. She is finally located through a house-to-house search, and takes her rightful place in the choir beside her mother, accompanied by the prince on the piano. Diaz's double-page acrylics fill the spreads with humorous, bold, and colorful images. A delightful universal tale with an added musical twist.Mary N. Oluonye, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH
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PreS-Gr. 2. The familiar tale is transformed once more, this time given a swamp location and a gospel sensibility. Queen Mother Rhythm has a beautiful baby daughter, but a hurricane sweeps the baby downstream in a basket. The baby is taken in by Cruel Crooked Foster Mother, who, along with her two daughters, makes Cinderella's life miserable. Thomas adds some unusual reshaping to the familiar pattern. Instead of a ball, there's the Great Gospel Convention; instead of a prince looking for a mysterious girl, it's Queen Mother Rhythm trying to find the amazing singer who was auditioning as her successor; and instead of a shoe that fits, it's a song. For a story centered on the exuberance of gospel music, the text is oddly lacking in energy. Still, there's certain freshness in having the women in the forefront (the prince is a minor character), though the appellation "Crooked Foster Mother" seems a shame. Diaz's art is more representational than some of his previous work. Richly colored, with paint applied so thickly it looks like velvet, the pictures infuse humor into the story and give it a lift. Ilene CooperCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved