Release Date: March 20, 2012
Publisher: ALADDIN M!X
Target Audience: Middle Grade
Format: Finished copy received from Simon & Schuster
Why I Read It: Slightly awkward young teenager + an intriguing pair of glasses
Summary: Thirteen-year-old Callie is having trouble seeing. Though she hates the idea of wearing glasses, her mother forces her to go to the optometrist. She’s given a pair of glasses she soon discovers have magical powers (even though they’re huge and ugly). The glasses show her everyone’s thoughts in computer-like floating screens when she wears them. The optometrist won’t give her the real glasses she ordered until she learns a life lesson or two.
I don’t typically read a lot of middle grade books; occasionally I’ll pick one up because seeing the characters go through their awkward phases or learning life lessons is just so innocent and fun. (I am a big fan of The Mysterious Benedict Society series by Trenton Lee Stewart.) When I received Seeing Cinderella in the mail, I was
a) so happy Simon and Schuster thought of me, and
b) so intrigued by these glasses Callie would be given.
I was excited to pick this book up when I had a spare moment to read; I found it laugh-out-loud funny and quite entertaining.
Callie is definitely going through an awkward phase – her best friend, Ellen, is pumped to start Middle School, but Callie’s just not. She spent the whole year before fending off the nickname she loathed, Polka Dot. Now it looks like Ellen is starting to make new friends and with these crazy glasses she can see that Ellen’s hiding secrets from her. And everyone is thinking awful thoughts about her glasses (if only they knew they showed Callie everyone’s thoughts). She is not a strong student, and thanks to Ellen, has landed up in drama class because sneaky Ellen changed Callie’s elective from art to drama. Oh yeah, and Callie’s parents are separated but she doesn’t feel like she has anyone she can talk to about that.
For someone who doesn’t often read books about younger teenagers and is far from being thirteen, I felt like I connected with Callie so much. Lundquist did a brilliant job of getting inside Callie’s head – her thoughts were always so sassy and funny, but I got to see how vulnerable and shy she was when confronted by another person. (It took me right back to that feeling of, “Oh gosh, you’re talking to ME?!“) The glasses gave her courage and emboldened her, but it was a fine line she walked trying not to reveal that she knew everyone’s secrets. I loved seeing the growth in Callie as she realized that just like her, everyone else had insecurities and other things going on in their lives that left them far from perfect.
Seeing Cinderella felt so fully thought out. There were home life issues, a new friend that immigrated from Mexico, struggles with having a crush for the first time, best friend drama, self-esteem issues, problems with not doing perfectly in school, and a boy who wouldn’t drop the Polka Dot nickname. Callie felt very real to me; I liked that she was such a relate-able character and that she wasn’t an idealized teenager. So much of her reminded me of my younger sister, Ashley, when she was growing up. Ashley was into absolutely everything but school and loved playing sports. Callie finds that she’s got a secret talent, too, and it’s not just seeing everyone’s thoughts with the special glasses.
I highly recommend you share Seeing Cinderella with your young teenagers or read it yourself! It’s a great book with a lot of great lessons to be learned (that never felt overly in-my-face) throughout the quickly moving plot.
A Tweetable Review: Seeing Cinderella is a fun & witty middle grade book. Callie learns a lot about herself when she gets glasses that show everyone’s thoughts.