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Cindy Ellen: A Wild Western Cinderella

Page history last edited by Todd Ide 10 years, 3 months ago

Plot Summary

     Cindy Ellen: A Wild Western Cinderella is a book about a girl named Cindy Ellen. She lives in the Wild West with her father. At the beginning of the story, her father marries for the second time. He marries a woman who has two daughters. Cindy's new stepmother and stepsisters are not kind to her. They put Cindy to work around the ranch while the stepsisters do nothing. Cindy has to mend the fences, tend the cows, and shovel out the corral. (Lowell 6) Then an invitation comes to the house for a two-day celebration, but Cindy Ellen could not go because she had no nice clothes. Then a fairy godmother comes to her rescue. The fairy godmother uses a magical, golden six-gun which turns Cindy's dirty clothes into beautiful garments and her gray horse into a little white silver horse, but Cindy must be home before midnight or she'll be sorry. (Lowell 11, 12)

     Cindy attends the celebration and meets Joe Prince. Joe Prince is the rich rancher's son. On the second night of the celebration, Cindy forgets about the time because she dances with Joe Prince. As the clock began to chime (twelve o'clock) Cindy suddenly runs home. Joe Prince ran after her but could not catch her, but what did he find? One of Cindy's diamond spurs fell off her boot. (Lowell 29) Joe then searches the territory to find the woman who it belongs to. In the end Joe Prince finds Cindy Ellen. They are then married and live happily ever after on a ranch of their own.

     Literature and the Child defines folklore to be stories that are passed down from generation to generation. They first started as an oral tradition. (Galda, Cullinan, Sipe Chapter 5) Different types of folklore are: nursery rhymes, folktales, fairy tales, tall tales, fables, myths, pourquoi stories, epics, folk songs, legends, and ballads. The story of Cindy Ellen: A Wild Western Cinderella is of the genre folklore because of its oral tradition. With in folklore, Cindy Ellen would be classified as a fairy tale.

     Cindy Ellen: A Wild Western Cinderella is a modern version of the famous fairy tale Cinderella. Most fairy tales have the common starting line of “once upon a time”. Cindy Ellen: A Wild Western Cinderella starts with a very similar line “Once there was a rancher...”. (Lowell 5) A fairy tale story often ends with “and they lived happily ever after”. On the last page of the story, Lowell writes, “So Cindy Ellen and Joe Prince got hitched and lived happily ever after in a ranch house full of love and rodeo trophies.” (38) “And they lived happily ever after” is still present, but with a western flare.


Textual Elements

    Lowell and Manning draw on textual and artistic element for characterization. The fairy godmother is portrayed to be a comical old woman. The very first time she appears, in the book, she is wearing a sombrero. (Lowell 10) No one else in the book wears a sombrero hat. When people see a person wearing a sombrero, it is usually laughed at. For some reason, Americans think that a sombrero hat is funny. The illustrator realizes this and intentionally places this kind of hat to make the reader, chuckle to him/herself when they see it. It helps to portray the funniness of the fairy godmother.

      The reader is able to tell that the fairy godmother is an older woman and perhaps even a grandmother figure by the color of her hair. Her hair is a gray, whitish color. The reader is able to see this color very clearly on page 23 and 36. Older people are often thought of having gray or white hair. When the reader see's this he/she assumes that the fairy godmother must be an older woman.

     Also when looking through the book, the reader notices that the fairy godmother is always standing in peculiar ways. For instance, on page 13 she is standing on one leg, on page 36 she is kicking one of her legs up in the air, and on page 38 she looks as if she is going to start dancing while the other characters on the page are standing up straight and waving good-bye (reserved manner). The way in which she stands in the book is comical. It is not a “normal” way that an older lady would stand. Thus, the reader concludes that the fair godmother is a comical old woman who uses her golden six-gun to help turn Cindy into a beautiful girl.

      The illustrations help to explain the physical setting of the story. Since this is a picture book the author cannot only use words to describe what the setting looks like. Thus the illustrator helps to portray what the author has no time to use words for, such as what the landscape looks like. Manning uses cacti plants, jackrabbits, and lizards to show what animals and vegetation are present in the Wild West. The illustrator also shows lots of reddish-brown landscape which represents the bareness of the Wild West. The reddish-brown color of ground, in the pictures, shows the amount of land that is barren and covered in sand and rocks.


Artistic Elements 

     Jane Manning, the illustrator, uses outline style art in the book. This style of art helps the reader focus on what is important in each picture and helps to portray the emotions of characters and events in the book. Outline style art emphasizes lines. (Galda, Cullinan, Sipe 84) This style of art creates definite shape and does not usually allow colors to blend together. The reader is able to see distinctive shape differences and when a color ends and changes. In Cindy Ellen, every character and landscape is defined by an outer-line.

     When looking at the illustrations on page 14 and 15, Joe and Cindy are more distinctively defined and outlined. Manning intentionally made the outlines of Joe and Cindy darker to create emphasis on their characters. Jane Manning creates emphasis on Joe and Cindy by defining the outline of their characters. The reader then focuses on them when looking at the picture.

     Interestingly, when the fairy godmother uses the magical gun (Lowell 13, 24, 35) the lines on the pages are not “straight”. The lines become more curved. The reader interprets these lines as movement. On all three of these pages Cindy's clothing changes. The curved lines in the pictures help the reader to understand the miraculous event that has just taken place.


Analysis and Critique

   A message of Cindy Ellen is that even though times are rough, in the end it will all turn out alright. At the beginning, we have Cindy, a sweet and gentle girl, who is subjected to terrible misfortune when her father marries her stepmother. She is then put to work. This is obviously not easy, but she did not complain. In the end, she marries a wonderful man who loves her and she loves him; and they live happily ever after. Even though it was hard for a time, things did eventually change for the better.

     Another message that is portrayed in the book is that a kind, sweet hearted, and gentle person ends up with a wonderful life. Life may turn down hill for a while (when the stepmother entered Cindy's life), but in the end it will turn out alright. It will turn out alright because of the kind natured person the individual is. Cindy took the hardship and did not complain. She kept her kind, sweet hearted nature, and kept on living. Then an event or person will come along (fairy godmother) which will change the person's whole life for the better.




Galda, Cullinan, Sipe.  Literature and the Child (7th Edition).  California: Wadsworth Publishing, 2010. Chapter 1


Lowell, Susan. Cindy Ellen: A Wild Western Cinderella. Illus. Jane Manning. New York: HarperCollins, 2000.  Book





Will need to look up format for the type of source used.


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