Ella's childhood is a happy one: she has loving parents, plenty of fields and meadows to explore, and lots of kind animal friends to play with. A sweet child, Ella warms the hearts of all who meet her. And her home is a wonderful place, the perfect little kingdom for a joyful family. But when Ella's father unexpectedly passes away, she finds herself at the mercy of a jealous and cruel new family. Relegated to the position of a servant girl covered in ashes, and spitefully renamed Cinderella, Ella could easily begin to lose hope. But Ella is determined to honor her mother's dying words, to "have courage and be kind." Will Ella be able to hold onto her kindness and courage through it all? When the palace sends out an open invitation for all maidens to attend a ball, it looks like Ella's fortunes are about to change. Alas, her stepmother forbids her to attend and rips apart her only dress. All seems lost, until a kindly beggar woman steps forward and, armed with a pumpkin and a few mice, changes Cinderella's life forever.