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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Fourth Grade Fairy by Eileen Cook

Hi there!
Welcome back to Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers.  Today we continue the celebration honoring National Library Week with another post about a bookishly good title hitting shelves near you in a few days time.  It’s by a name familiar to the Young Adult world as can be seen by her multiple published works (some of which you’ve probably seen in your own library visits), but whose work I have not read previously.  That’s right!  This was a new to me author and I must say, I am happy to have made their acquaintance…as I’m sure you will be.  Let’s cut to the chase and the big reveal.  Today’s book of choice is….


Many years ago, humans and fairies were friends...until something bad happened.  Some fairies decided it was more fun to play tricks on humans instead of grant wishes, which was their calling.  Push came to shove and it was no longer safe to remain exposed to the newly named “humdrums” and so the fairies banded together and used their magic to cast a hiding spell, allowing them to blend in but remain in plain site to carry out their duties.  The relationships between these two groups have been non-existent for many years, the thought of friendship lost in time…at least until now.

Willow is a progressive fairy whose heartfelt wish (besides to be an only child instead of a sister – since her sister is a bit of a showy know-it-all – and to have a dog) is…to have a best friend.  (A big collective “ahh” from the readers out there…ready?  1, 2, 3…) Truth be told, she should probably be wishing for her power to show up, after all…her sister’s arrived when she turned 10 – exactly on time – put wishes are what we want with our hearts, not our heads.  Good thing her birthday is coming up because that’s the perfect time for wishes!  It’s not that she doesn’t have best friends currently, she does; Sasha and Adele to put names to their roles.  The only thing is that they were best friends with each other first and so Willow often feels left out of the loop.  Her solution?  Well, since there seems to be a short supply of “single” fairies, making friends with a humdrum should do the trick as they are always looking for a new friend!  Oh if it were only that simple…. 

Ever have so much fun with a book that you finish it in one sitting?  Okay, okay, so it helps if the book is short as well but really, if the story wasn’t holding your interest, you’d have put it down and walked away…especially when it comes to eBooks (at least for me).  You’ve heard my thoughts on the “phenomenon-turned-common-place” digital book, and yet I find myself reading them on occasion in lieu of not having read the title at all.  There are just some books that are too good to pass up despite the review format available (though don’t go pushing an audio book at me…that’s one area that my opinion – as in they are for some, but not for me – will not be swayed)….case in point, today’s title. 

The cover leads you to believe a cute little book lies within (or at least it led me to believe that) and you know what…it did not disappoint; in fact, I believe it surpassed by expectations ten fold.  (Bookmarks up to the author on that achievement!)  Willow is a great girl, striving to reach her dreams even if they aren’t exactly what might be considered “the norm”.  I mean, who sets the standards on “normal” anyway, right? We do.  Oh society may have their say (and they will…trust me…) but in the end “normal” for each of us is determined by our inner voice.  It’s how we find our individuality and learn to share that with the world. 

Lucky for Willow, her Grandmother understands this concept and subtly helps her get from point A to point B…leaving the final outcome up to her. When she first arrived at the humdrum school, her sights were initially set on becoming friends with the popular girls and I could only think…oye vay.  Even fairies have wannabe moments and idolize the "popular" girls...though in this instance, she didn't really know any better since she wasn’t really part of their world so to speak.  Of course, she’d look to “the best” representative of our kind…and learn from that mistake later on (hmph)…but life is a learning experience after all (something her sister Lucinda learns the hard way…hehe – sorry if that sounds “evil” but she deserved what happened).      

The supporting characters are wonderfully written as well and suit their roles perfectly.  From the popular girls to the not-so-popular individuals, from Grandma Doyle to her sister Lucinda, their really isn’t one that you encounter living what you’d describe as falsely.   One side character, Dr. Bumbershoot, actually has very little “face” time, but certain makes and impression with her office (and the name!  Grandma would call an umbrella that…a bumbershoot…or so Mom told me…^_^) in all its quirkiness.  Purple walls, gold edging, velvet chairs, and who wouldn't want their office to smell like lavender instead of rubbing alcohol?  *looks for raised hands*  Yeah, that's what I thought. Then we encounter the maladies fairies have…oh boy.  If sneezing pink glitter was the worst of my worries, so be it!  (Might be kind a fun actually…or at least colorful…)

Let’s not forget the cast of animal characters because frankly they steal the show at times.  Shall we meet a few?  (Yes…let’s!)  Lester the hamster and his snarky color and size changing self (that last part is due to a spell gone wrong cast by Ms. Goody Twoshoes).  Winston (a name dear to my heart) the Scottie, is a lively little fellow who doesn’t really excel at sneaking and has a penchant for cheese.  Louise the cat can be found at the doctor’s office (as her pet, not a patient) any day of the week and loves to share her advice on whatever seems to be ailing you; while there’s a rather opinionated parrot who shows up a bit later that would give this talker a run for her money if it so desired..  Speaking of pets….I have to say it; I love page 47 in which we learn (in detail) why Willow thinks that dogs make the best pets ever.  Fuzzy.  Love you all the time.  Lick you when you need attention...and poop in the house.  Well, the last one I could do without (believe me), but I certainly vouch for it all and then some.  Our little fur babies are a part of our families and I can’t imagine a home not being better for having added one to their mix.  More chaotic…sure; but that’s part of the fun.  ^_^   Back to the story…

It's obvious who the real friend is (who shall remain nameless until you read it at least)...but I guess that comes with time and experience (since the “intended” audience is much younger than I) and possibly your own personality.  Much like “the-friend-that-shall-not-be-named”, I really didn't care to be one of the popular ones in school.  I mean if I was...great.  If not, I had more important things on my mind and was happy to talk to whoever wanted to talk to me…and if that was no one, well hello?  Books make a wonderful lunch time companion, don’t you think? *high five to everyone of you that nods in agreement*

A few final thoughts…I really like how each chapter starts out with a "list" of sorts to itemize the points Willow intends to make and also clue you in on what you'll encounter within the section.  They are often funny, rhetorical questions that you simply can’t help smiling at but that is the point; something to break up the story AND keep you interested.  Also the page design lends a touch of fairy magic to the leading page of each chapter with the smattering of little stars; cute and whimsical.    

All in all, a wonderful book for readers of all ages plus a great reminder of our core lessons from childhood.   The oh-so-true “it’s not what is on the outside, but what is inside that counts”; illustrated wonderfully here.  Plus, being prejudice about something or someone (or many someone's) is for the birds; giving everyone their fair shake is the only way to go because you never really know what “magic” you’ll uncover in the most unlikely of places. 
This book is scheduled for release April 19th, 2011 from Simon & Schuster, so be on the lookout at your favorite online or local retail outlet.  More exciting news (and something I only learned when gathering my links for this post…yay for productive research!), this is only book one in a new series!  (Woo-hoo!)  Book two (Wishes for Beginners) is slated for release in June, and book three (Gnome Invasion) is scheduled for August so you can rest easy…there is more fun to come and very soon.

ARC eBook for review via Simon & Schuster’s Galley Grab.  (THANKS!)  If you haven’t tried this new program, you don’t know what you’re missing…especially those of you that prefer eBooks.  It’s in the “beta” stages right now, but definitely worth a look.  Visit the site to find out more.  For more information about the author and her (long) list of published works, feel free to visit her site (and have your wish list ready).

Until next time…happy reading!


Mardel said...

this sounds like a very fun book, and one that should be available to my school library...will have to do something about this... :)

Misha said...

I love Simon and Schuster's galley grab! Fourth Grade Fairy seems like so much fun. I didn't know it was a series.

....Petty Witter said...

A progressive fairy? I like this idea.

I had heard that the title of this has been changed here in the UK as fairy is a derogative word for a gay man and therefore this wasn't thought a suitable title for this market - don't know if its true or not but I have read it in several places. Have you heard anything?

GMR said...

Mardel: Sounds like a plan. Hope they enjoy!

Misha: Yes...I don't often read eBooks but there are certainly times for an exception. The series part was news to me as well...happy news grant it but news all the same.

Petty Witter: I thought it was rather fun and yet unique as well. AS for the title change, according to their UK website, it looks like they kept the title. I know what you mean on the derogatory nature of the word but seeing as its all about usage in a case like this, I think that's maybe why they kept it...just speculating.

Tampa BookWorm said...

Looks like an awesome book for my soon to be 9yr old dd. Thanks for the review!

GMR said...

Tampa BookWorm: Absolutely. Hope they enjoy it (and happy early birthday).

Anonymous said...

great review! This sounds like an adorable book. I'll have to go look up the galley grab thing. thanks for the idea.

-Michelle John

GMR said...

Michelle John: Sounds like a plan. Thanks for the kind words and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

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