by Gail Carson Levine
$6.99. 288 pages. HarperTeen.
One of my all-time favorite books, Ella Enchanted taught me at a very young age what it means to have courage. It may be written for middle-school reading levels, but Ella's story is riveting enough for me to continue to read it over again year after year. In this new take on the classic Cinderella story, Ella is given a fairy's "gift" at birth to always be obedient. As she grows up, she must obey any order given to her, even if it means chopping off her own hand. After her mother dies, her greedy father sends her away to finishing school, where a young girl discovers her secret and begins to make her life a living hell. All the while, Ella resists her orders for as long as her curse possibly allows and maintains her strong personality and perfect wit. When she finally escapes the school, she sets off on a journey to find the fairy and make her take back the curse, fighting off mind-reading ogres and falling in love with the most wonderful prince of any book.