Cinderella’s Magical Wheelchair: An Empowering Fairy Tale
Loving Healing Press (2011)
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt, MS, PPS, for Reader Views (8/11)
It isn’t often that a children’s book makes me stop and say, “WOW!,” but I have to admit that “Cinderella’s Magical Wheelchair” got this response from me. Set in modern times, Jewel Kat’s version of the story follows the traditional one, with some much needed modern improvements. Cinderella is still a mistreated orphan with a wicked stepmother and evil stepsisters. This Cinderella, however, has to use a wheelchair to get around and to get her chores done. The author also throws in some cultural diversity by having the fairy godmother as a woman of color named “Monique.”
For me, the icing on the cake with this version of the story is that when Cinderella has her magical night, she doesn’t wait for the prince to find her afterwards to start living; she becomes empowered to create the life that she wants on her own. This means moving into a wheelchair-accessible society and creating a career that she loves. When the prince finally does find her, she has already “arrived” on her own. He loves her for who she truly is. I really loved this part of the story because traditional fairy tales have the future princess feeling trapped, or even in a coma, until the prince comes along to rescue them. It is high time for this to change, especially for young readers with disabilities, who still have to deal with those in society who see them as “wheelchair bound.” “Cinderella’s Magical Wheelchair” will empower these readers to work towards living the lives that they want to live.
As a school counselor/instructor who has worked with disabled individuals of all ages and disabilities, I frequently see how society has a tendency to make them feel trapped and unworthy because of their differences from the mainstream. While I agree that they do have a lot of hardships to overcome, from my experience, once they do overcome them and utilize what resources are available to them, they become even more incredible people than most of those that are able bodied.
While I highly recommend “Cinderella’s Magical Wheelchair” for children with disabilities, I also believe that it would be of value for children who are not disabled. It will give them a chance to see children with special needs in a different light. Currently working with adults with disabilities, I have several female students who have both learning and physical impairments. I also believe that they would enjoy this book because it is both beautifully illustrated and written on a reading level that they could handle without too much difficulty. I can’t wait to see what comes next in the “Growing with Love” series.