Monday, February 18, 2008
Dinorella by Pamela Edwards
Edwards, Pamela Duncan. 1998. Dinorella:A Prehistoric Fairy Tale. New York: Scholastic Inc. ISBN: 0590689487
In Dinorella, Pamela Edwards takes the classic Cinderella story and twists it around for an interesting read. The story follows the same Cinderella story of the poor Dinorella not being able to go to the ball because of being too poor to afford the necessary clothes and jewelry. After the Fairydactyl comes to the rescue, Edwards begins spinning her version of Cinderella. Dinorella is distracted on her way to the ball when she sees the duke being attacked by a deinonychus. Dinorella saves the day and the duke, creating an antithesis to the fairy tale of the damsel in distress being saved by a knight in shining armor. During her heroic save, Dinorella loses a diamond earring with which the duke later identifies her.
The story of Cinderella has been told so many times and is so popular, it is difficult to picture the story another way. However, Edwards adds a inventive twist to the story by having the female character act as the hero in the story. In fairy tales, the women is always in need of being rescued, and so Dinorella's rescue of Duke Dudley was a pleasant surprise.
The book began with a delightful alliteration pattern of words starting with D. Sentences like, "Dusk had fallen when Dinorella heard a deafening disturbance coming from the direction of Duke Dudley's Den" become tongue twisters but keep the reader interested and the text lively. However, as the book went on, it seemed as though the author was searching for words that started with D, resorting to name calling words such as dummy and dimwit. The negative name calling seemed excessive and appeared to be added simply because the words started with the letter D instead of adding to or driving the plot.
The illustrations were creative and definitely added humor to the story. The pictures made me and my children readers laugh out loud at Dinorella putting pantyhose on and the deinonychus putting pickles and ketchup on the duke's tail before eating him. The illustrations also took the place of words for a page spread to show the duke matching the diamond to Dinorella. The picture was vivid enough that no words were needed.
I read the book to my 3-year-old nephew and 7 year-old niece. My nephew loved the dinosaur attacking the duke, but my niece thought the dinosaurs should be nicer and not call names. They both enjoyed the pictures more than the story.
"The cartoon dinosaurs with human expressions are hilarious and the throwaways--one of the big-finned cars sports "X-TNKT/Pangea" vanity plates--will keep even adults on their toes. Edwards's dialogue is a bit trying, but she rewrites the Grimms' tale just enough to make it clever. Dinorella is a fun way to learn a little about fairy tales (with a delightful twist) and alliterative language."--John Sigwald, Unger Memorial Library, School Library Journal
I plan to use this book with my 7th graders to show alliteration. The excessive use of name calling would deter me from using it with elementary students, which is sad because I love the idea of the female heroine in a fairy tale!