<p>Recommended by the National Education Association, this folksy, Americanized retelling of Cinderella spins a more realistic yarn, void of princes and fairy godmothers. The place: a woodsy, sweltering Southern town; the time: pre-World War II. Picture two rude stepsisters, their ambivalent mother, and a sweet teenager nicknamed Ashpet (in the original German story, her name was Aschenputtel, "Cinder Maid"). True to the original Brothers Grimm tale, this kindhearted lackey obeys every demand. Foremost, the stepsisters order Ashpet to fetch love sachets from "Dark Sally," an intimidating conjure woman, so they can attract mates at the town Victory dance--a soirée honoring the local boys who are headed off to war (and a rare event in this modest town). Not a problem: Dark Sally adores Ashpet and intends to make her the belle of the ball. Rather than whipping out a magic wand, Dark Sally encourages Ashpet to bathe in a remote pond and don a knockout dress (once her mother's) ...