I'm not in the habit of writing about picture books, but there are some that still strike my fancy, in addition to the old favorites that hold a place in my heart.  Now it's October, my second favorite month of the year (July is the first because that's when my birthday is), and we kidlit bloggers are celebrating Bradbury Season.  For me this time of year is more marvelous than scary, but I like a tinge of the morbid even in my sparkles, and so I present you my choice for Bradbury Season: Robert D. San Souci's Cinderella Skeleton

"Cinderella Skeleton" is a fairytale retold for goths.  Our familiar friend Cindy isn't sweeping up the house anymore.  Now her chores include hanging cobwebs, arranging dead flowers, littering the floor with dust and leaves, and feeding bats.  Her stepmother and stepsisters are still evil, though, and when the marvelously dead Prince Charnel hosts a ball, they do everything they can to keep her away.  

You know this story, though, so you know that it all ends well.  When Prince Charnel finds Cinderella Skeleton he proclaims:

Cinderella Skeleton!
The rarest gem the world has seen!
Your gleaming skull and burnished bones,
Your teeth like polished kidney stones,
Your dampish silks and dankish hair,
There's nothing like you anywhere!
You make each day a Halloween!

That part always makes me cry a little, tears of joy.  I received this book as a gift from my boyfriend (he's so goth he's dead, except he's not really goth at all - just vaguely morbid, like me) and he inscribed it with "You make each day a Halloween!" at the front of the book.  

Where this version of the tale shines is not in the plot itself, which we all know.  It is in the details.  It's in the fact that Cinderella's coach driver is a black cat.  It's in the way San Souci deals with the glass slipper part of the tale.  It's in the fact that this Prince is Prince Charnel ("a building or chamber in which bodies or bones are deposited" - thank you, M-W.com!) instead of Prince Charming.  And it is in the phenomal illustrations provided by David Catrow.

"Cinderella Skeleton" is perfect for fans of The Nightmare Before Christmas and The Corpse Bride (which it pre-dates by five years).  It is the whimsical kind of spooky that perky goths enjoy and morbid but not too serious children adore.  It is wonderful and beautiful, and it is my favorite Halloween book.

For more on Bradbury Season, see Colleen's post at Chasing Ray.


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