“We can only buy one of these, honey.” 

The mom was ahead of me in the checkout line with her daughter, who appeared to be four or five years old. 

The child frowned, but before she could start with the whole “pleeeease” routine, her mom said, “Tell me why you want them and I’ll help you decide.”

“Well,” the girl twisted her mouth into a thoughtful knot. “I want the crown so I can play princesses.” In her chubby grip was a plastic tiara adorned with shiny (and equally plastic) gems. “And I want the dinosaur ‘cause it’s got teeth for biting things.”

Cinderella Rex (Andrews McMeel/Epic! Originals) would have been a perfect solution for that little girl’s dilemma. Written by Christy Webster and colorfully illustrated by Holly Hatam, the characters in this iconic fairy tale are recast as various species of dinosaurs to clever effect. For example, Cinderella Rex is unfairly treated by her “stompmother” and “stompsisters” and fails to retrieve her glass shoe as she flees because, being a Tyrannosaurus rex, “her arms could not reach it.” 

There are a few surprising twists to the familiar tale, as well. The prince, in this case a yellow Parasaurolophus, is not seeking the mysterious belle of his ball to marry her—at least, not within the confines of this rendition. In fact, it is not because of her beauty that Cinderella Rex earns the opportunity to trade her step-family’s cottage for life in the castle. It’s because her dancing skills are without equal—and the prince could really use some lessons. 

It is this crucial rewriting that transforms Cinderella Rex from the many patriarchal incarnations of the tale into a modern perspective on “happily ever after.” This is a princess who doesn’t need rescuing from one kind of servitude to another, just reward and respect for what makes her special.

Cinderella Rex is the first book in a new series for Epic! Originals called Once Before Time, prehistoric re-imaginings of classic fairy tales. It is available for pre-order now and for purchase on November 12. Recommended for ages two to four.

Christy Webster is a children’s book writer and editor who has written over 60 books and stories for young readers. She lives with her husband and at least two cats in Queens, New York, and enjoys spending time at a cabin that can only be reached by canoe.