Bella at Midnight by Diane Stanley.
This book has gotten several starred reviews and deservedly so! An easy way to describe this book is a retelling of Cinderella, but that doesn’t really do it justice. The original story is so well-hidden in a detailed book that it is hard to recognize it except for certain elements. It is the story of Bella, a knight’s daughter whose father is so distraught over her mother’s death at Bella’s birth that he sends her away to be raised by peasants. While living with the loving but poor family, Bella meets a young prince who is growing up in a nearby castle and they become fast friends. But Bella doesn’t know that she is anything more than a peasant girl. When Bella is a teen, she is suddenly summoned back to her father’s home because he has remarried. She is so ill-suited to be in a knight’s house that they have her sleep in the kitchen. The story continues to build into an adventure where Bella has to save the prince.
This is a marvelous retelling that completely remakes the story into something modern and spectacular. Bella is a worthy heroine for girls to relate to. I also enjoyed that the story shows the points of view of other characters like Bella’s stepmother and stepsisters. Point this out to girls who enjoy fantasy, romance, or princess books.
An Egg Is Quiet by Dianna Aston, illustrated by Sylvia Long.
This book is lovely, lovely, lovely. From its speckled end pages to the exquisite illustrations inside, it is like entering an amazing egg gallery. The joy of the book is taking the time to slowly look at each type of egg in the book, from the vivid turquoise of a Glossy Ibis egg to the strange, tubular dogfish egg. This is a perfect book to share with preschoolers through second graders when doing a nature unit. But it is also a great spring lap-book to share one-on-one with a budding naturalist.