Leading the Way and Taking the Stage: A Disney Before the Story Book Review

In many of the tales brought to life by Walt Disney Animation Studios, specifically the tales of heroines, their stories begin well into their teenage years. Cinderella was 19 years old when she attended the prince’s ball in a gown made by her fairy godmother. Pocahontas was 18 years old when English colonists invaded her people’s land. Mulan was 16 years old when she joined the Chinese military in her father’s place. Their tales of triumph made them infamous, but what did their earlier upbringings look like?

In Disney’s latest chapter book series, Before the Story shows characters as children, catering to the 6- to 8-year-old demographic. The series has already featured Mulan, Elsa and Anna, and recently took on the tales of Pocahontas and Cinderella.

Before Pocahontas brought peace, she was a girl ready to help. Pocahontas Leads The Way shows a younger but equally brave chief’s daughter who wants what’s best for her people. When a member of their village falls ill, Pocahontas takes it upon herself to get the help they need.

In addition to embarking on a journey that taught her courage, strength and friendship, the adventure that surrounds the plotline of searching for medicinal flowers gives the reader a sense of nostalgia for what they know comes next in Pocahontas’ life.

Before Cinderella lost her slipper, she was a girl ready to create. Cinderella Takes The Stage shares the story of a younger Ella, affectionately called Cinderella by her mother and father, who is determined to win the Midsummer Festival Puppet Contest. When she shares the puppet creation process with a new friend, she struggles to decide which of their dreams deserves the prize of a gold coin.

Friendship and love share a magical quality that outshines the need to be first place, but it’s hope and belief in magic that makes Cinderella and Valentine winners, no matter who the prize was awarded to.

In each of these stories, the reader gets the opportunity to dive deeper into each heroine’s backstory and witness their resilience begin to form. Whether it was Pocahontas’ determination to take care of everyone in her village or Cinderella’s belief in finding the good in everyone, the outcome of each tale leaves the reader with a greater understanding of how these young women came to be strong individuals.

The Before the Story series takes young readers into the world of their favorite characters, yet gives them the ability to connect on a deeper level with them as they appear to be similar ages. It is an entertaining take on the lives of these beloved heroines while continuing to develop their virtues.