Jan’s unique artistic style transports us to Russia (where she traveled before starting Cinders to get inspiration) for a quirky reimagining of the classic Cinderella story. Her attention to detail has always kept me interested in her artwork long after I am done reading the words on the page, and this book was no exception. Each chicken is made to look different and each wears elegantly unique outfits to the ball. The middle pages of the book even open up to reveal a magical ballroom scene to mimic the illusion of the godmother hen watching the ball from the outside, which is a great interactive feature for children.
Of course, the details in the written story are just as wonderful. Even though she uses advanced vocabulary and some Russian words, the book does not feel stuffy and the story can continue either through the use of contextual cues or by referring to the aforementioned details in the illustrations. The character names are silly (Largessa the mother hen and the two sisters Pecky and Bossy in particular), keeping the story light for younger readers (or listeners). Jan treats her characters lovingly and truly transforms ordinary animals into vibrant characters with personalities to rival those of any human.
In the end, it is left ambiguous as to whether the story was just a dream of the human girl who takes care of the chickens, but this only adds to the magic and wonder that Jan breaths into this classic fairy tale. To hear Jan talk about her trip to Russia and to see how to draw Cinders, watch this video from her blog!
~Reviewed by Katie Goetz