To celebrate the publication day of Scissorella: The Paper Princess by Clare Helen Welsh and Laura Barrett, I have a fascinating guest post by Clare to share, alongside my review. Scissorella is one of the most spectacular re-imagined fairy tales we’ve ever read, blending the magical world of Cinderella with a real-life female inspiration: German film director Lotte Reiniger. It is one of my top picks for 2021.
Lotte lives with her two horrible sisters and her only friends are the paper puppets she snips under the moonlight. When an invitation to the Palace Spring Ball arrives on their doorstep, Lotte decides it’s time to create her own happy ending.
I knew we were going to adore this book the moment I saw it. Laura’s illustrations are exquisite and encapsulate Lotte’s real-life fascination with silhouette puppetry. What my daughter and I loved most about Scissorella, is that Lotte is her own fairy godmother. She creates her own masterful dress using her paper-puppet-making skills.
Just when you think it can’t get better, Clare and Laura have created a magnificent double spread pull out of the Palace Spring Ball. It’s jaw-droppingly beautiful and full of gorgeous details. But when the clock strikes twelve it begins to rain. Is there time to save her paper dress? And with no glass slippers in sight, how will Scissorella ever get her happy ever after?
Scissorella is out of this world. Clare and Laura have created a one-of-a-kind picture book that wraps up all of the warmth of a traditional fairy tale with a true-life story and 21st century relatability. It maintains all of the joy of Cinderella whilst giving the main character a strong, independent personality. Scissorella is a book you will want to read over and over again.
I am honoured to be sharing a fabulous guest post by picture book extraordinaire, Clare Helen Welsh about how she came to write her latest breath-taking picture book, Scissorella: The Paper Princess, illustrated by Laura Barrett.
Rachael, thank you so much for sharing this wonderful review of Scissorella and for helping us to celebrate publication day.
This book grew out of a very interesting, but very distracting, research-rabbit-hole into the life and work of Charlotte ‘Lotte’ Reiniger after she appeared as a featured artist in a Google header in 2018! (Inspiration really can come from anywhere!) Born in Germany in 1899, Lotte was fascinated by silhouette puppetry and the art of paper cutting. As a child, she built her own puppet theatre to put on shows for her family and friends. In fact, during a critique session for this text, I discovered that my crit partner’s husband lived down the road from Lotte and watched her shows as a child! How wonderful must that have been?!
As an adult, Lotte used a homemade animation table, a camera with manual shutter, card and wire puppets and layered panes of glass to create stories, which were often born from fairy tale retellings. You can watch many of her animations online (Warning – rabbit hole alert!) and I immediately fell in love with Lotte’s storytelling, that preceded the likes of Walt Disney by as much as a decade. Lotte was such a fascinating, creative and talented individual, I knew immediately I wanted to write about her in some way.
As with many of my texts, Scissorella began life as a title and I had been looking to write a modern twist on the classic Cinderella tale, with a strong and independent lead. After a few hours of research into Lotte’s world, it was clear to me that Lotte would be my perfect choice and I set out to write my re-imagining with a main character that had all the strength and determination that Lotte herself possessed.
The story received glowing feedback from my critique partners and my agent, Alice Williams. And not long later, it was acquired by Sue Buswell at Andersen Press who had the perfect illustrator in mind for the text – Laura Barrett. Laura Barrett Illustration Laura’s work is absolutely stunning and by some stroke of magic her illustrations are also inspired by Lotte’s work. I honestly don’t think we could have found a more perfect collaborator!
There are nods to some other bits of my research dotted throughout the book, including details of life in the 1920’s and Lotte’s husband, Carl Koch, who she married in 1921 and who became her creative partner.
As I say in my author’s note, to have the opportunity to create this book feels like a beautiful tribute to a remarkable woman. The production on this is second to none, with peep through pages, foil and the Andersen team’s fantastic eye for detail.
We are so excited to share Scissorella and Lotte’s world with you all! Fingers crossed Lotte Reiniger continues to entertain and inspire many more independent and creative young readers through our story.
Thank you so much, Clare – I love that the Google search homepage led to the creation of this incredible book three years later, what a journey!
Scissorella is published by Andersen Press, 4 November 2021
I am very grateful to the publisher for providing me with a complimentary copy of this book. This voluntary review contains my honest opinion.