Welcome to Stephanie Barden’s website.

According to children’s author, Roald Dahl, one must "…watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places.”

Like the idea for my first book, Cinderella Smith.

After a car trip to visit family, I found that one of my nieces had left one of her shoes in our car. How in the world, I wondered, could someone jump out of a car wearing only one shoe and not realize it? From that chance event, the idea for my version of Cinderella was born ~ a third grade girl who’s prone to losing shoes.

The first book in the series:



"In a clever slice-of-life novel, first-time author Barden humorously depicts the woes of Josephine-Kathryn ("Cinderella") Smith, a girl who got her nickname not because she sleeps by an "ashy fireplace" or has an evil stepmother ("She's just a regular kind of mom who is usually nice but kind of strict"). Rather, it's because she has trouble keeping track of her shoes: Cinderella has lost countless number of them. Her immediate concern is finding the mate to her "shiny, ruby red" tap shoe, so she can perform a solo in the upcoming dance recital. Her nemesis, snooty Rosemary T., doesn't make the situation any better by offering Cinderella her "big, old, brown tap shoes," but Cinderella has a new best friend, Erin, who offers support and distracts Cinderella from her problems by asking for advice on wicked stepsisters, two of which she'll be stuck with after her mother's wedding. Relatable situations paired with rising suspense from the missing shoe mystery provide a brand of entertainment likely to please even reluctant readers. Goode's fluid spot illustrations add to the fun."


"Fans of Clementine and Ramona will enjoy good-natured Cinderella's triumph over mean girls and her success at a tap-dance recital, all embellished by Diane Goode's simple black-line illustrations."


"Josephine-Kathryn “Cinderella” Smith is filled with apprehension over the new school year and the changing relationships among her friends. Her mother buys Cinderella ruby-red tap shoes, but true to her nickname, she quickly loses one, and as a result, her role as the Pumpkin Blossom Fairy in the dance recital is in jeopardy. Complicating matters is new girl Erin, who needs advice on dealing with her wicked stepsisters, but since Cinderella’s sister, Tess, is sweet, can she really help? Each chapter is cleverly titled after a pair of shoes (“White Mary Janes with Little Heels,” “Gladiator Sandals”), and line illustrations by the gifted Goode enhance the lightheartedness and fun of the story. Grounded in the details of a modern-day tween’s life, Barden’s debut is poignant in its portrayal of a young girl on the threshold of growing up and becoming her own person. The awkwardness Cinderella feels with her former friends is palpable yet not overly serious, and her inclusive enjoyment of life is contagious. The resolution to the stepsister problem is especially satisfying." 


"Cinderella’s bouncy energy, captured expertly in Goode’s emotive line drawings, is infectious; readers will delight in her expressions (e.g., dribbly-spit for Seattle drizzle) and enthusiastic use of adverbs (“very, extremely mad”). Once the last shoe is found and the last page turned, it’s hard to leave Cinderella behind. Alas."  



By Maia Glass Quicksall

         I really enjoyed reading ‘Cinderella Smith.’ It was a quick, exciting and fast-paced read. I found myself thoroughly entertained. The main character, Cinderella, was a likeable and realistic character; she seemed like a real-life person and I could relate to her. Having been a third grader myself at one point and knowing how the kids interact at that age, Cinderella’s relationship with her friends also was completely believable.

(Please find the entire review in the Snippets section of my web site.)



“Funny and clever! Readers will love this modern-day Cinderella!”-- Patricia Reilly Giff, Newberry Honor winner and author of the Polk Street School series

“Cinderella Smith is a contemporary tap-dancing girl with a fresh, funny voice and creative approach to life’s ups and downs. Cinderella is sure to win the hearts of young readers, as she did mine.” – Betty G. Birney, author of the award-winning According to Humphrey series

“Readers will love Cinderella Smith, who loses her tap shoe but never her charming, spunky spirit.” – Patricia MacLachlan, Newberry Award-winning author of Sarah, Plain and Tall









The second book in the series: 




Cinderella Smith knows how to spell and define many words, but sometimes the hardest word to understand is friendship.
Third grade is "vexylent," especially when Cinderella invents new words and her friends begin to adopt them. But, alas, things can be "awshucksible," too. The Rosemarys are in her class and continue to make life difficult. They make fun of her words and just about anything else that Cinderella enjoys. When the reward for winning the school spelling bee (getting to choose the theme for a class party) is announced, the gauntlet is thrown. Goode’s appealing line drawings keep things light and help readers cheer for Cinderella.
The invented words, the spelling bee and Cinderella’s voice, which is maturing and becoming more likable, make this a great offering for youngsters who are figuring out the confusing social terrain of third grade.


Cinderella is back and as irrepressible as ever. The third-grade spelling bee is next week, and the winner gets to plan a class party, so she and BFF Erin spend a lot of free time quizzing each other. Nemesis Rosemary has decided that Cinderella’s love of skipping and her inability to keep both shoes on her feet make her a baby, so the insults fly, but Cinderella learns to ignore the jibes.

The sequel to Cinderella Smith (2011) has a retro feel—teachers wait with students for carpool, the girls walk to school—that still melds easily with contemporary problems like bullying and tests. Goode’s illustrations capture both the tension between Cinderella and Rosemary, and the delights of the everyday that Cinderella still revels in. A simple joy of a book, Barden’s story has given third-graders their very own hero whose final decision of inclusiveness is warming. 









The third book in the series:


 Cinderella Smith, shoe-losing third-grader, is back, now facing the challenges of a research project.
Third-grade is the year when some kids (the Rosemarys, in this case) appoint themselves too old for childish things, while others (Cinderella and her posse) are still happy to jump and hop and slither when the zoo docent instructs them to. Alas! It's hard to know what to do if you are Cinderella Smith. When the class is assigned a research project on animals, the children decide they want to shock and amaze their classmates. This turns out to be harder than they thought. Cinderella wants to study ocelots, but the books she needs mysteriously disappear from the library. She and her friends, the self-named Group in Cahoots, come up with a cooperative way to shock and amaze everyone, even the Rosemarys. Fans of this series will appreciate the subtle changes that happen in these sunny stories: The boys and girls are growing up and noticing each other in different ways-they solve problems and forgive each other, even when the Rosemarys conspire to ruin things. Goode's black-and-white illustrations add humor and emotion to the story and, in the end, even make a lovely visual reference to the real Cinderella story when Charlie puts his basketball shoe on Cinderella's bare foot.
Charming. (Fiction. 7-10)







In addition to writing about Cinderella, I’m working on a couple other stories:

My nephew, Will, suggested I write a book “with animal main characters because both boys and girls like those kinds of stories”. So, following his advice, I’ve been chronicling the adventures of our pet rats, Max and Ernest. (They may, however, have to become mice ~ I’ve been told many people dislike dear ratties!)

During school visits I’ve been asked several times if I could write a “Boy Book”. (I guess the cover of Cinderella is a little too “girly” for some.) So, I’m also working on a story with a boy protagonist who moves into a possibly haunted house.  

I’ll be sure to share any news!