________________ CM . . . . Volume XVI Number 6 . . . . October 9, 2009


Fairy School Drop-Out.

Meredith Badger. Illustrated by Michelle Mackintosh.
Toronto, ON: Scholastic Canada, 2009.
151 pp., hardcover, $9.99.
ISBN 978-0-545-98975-6.

Subject Headings:
Fairies-Juvenile fiction.
Magic-Juvenile fiction.
Schools-Juvinile fiction.

Grades 2-4 / Ages 7-9.

Review by Shannon Ozirny.

*** /4


Not all fairies like being fairies.

Elly was one such fairy. She didn't just not like being a fairy, she hated it. She hated it more than paper cuts. More than cold baths. More than jam and anchovy sandwiches. What exactly did she hate about it? Everything. The stuff she was meant to wear. The things she was meant to learn. But most of all, she hated flying. Flying might look fun but Elly found it tiring and boring. Besides, skateboarding was so much more fun.


Elly Knottleweed-Eversprightly is, like so many other-worldly characters in children's books, just trying to get by in the human world. Unlike her other fairy counterparts, Elly is inept when it comes to magic spells, has a fascination with skateboards, and resents carrying a wand. When Elly's magic blunders cause her to be expelled from two fairy schools, Elly must either commit to her sprightly genes or face a life of being a fairy with no wish-fulfillment license.

     Elly is a somewhat engaging protagonist as she ably fulfills the "secretly talented klutz" archetype. Despite her good intentions, she still ends up turning her teacher purple or shattering all the windows in her classroom. The character of Elly alone, however, does not keep Fairy School Drop-out aflight. The other characters in the story, from Elly's parents to her human friend Jess, lack personality and depth. What's more, the plot is sprinkled with holes; only a few pages after we learn that Elly wants to attend a human school, we learn that she hates humans. After divulging that 1 in 1000 humans can actually fly, the narrator seemingly backpedals and says that most humans are "wrong" for thinking they can fly.

     That being said, magic moments do exist in Fairy School Drop-out. It is indeed chuckle-worthy when we learn that fairy school "spelling tests" have nothing to do with words and everything to do with casting magic spells. There is also an enjoyable amount of details on all the fairy gadgets (complete with diagrams), and hardcore fairy fans will be very interested in the intricate workings of the wand. The text also incorporates various lists of fairy code and fairy rules which both add to the plot and serve as breaks in the text for very young readers.

     There is also no denying that young girls will find this book's packaging irresistible. Complete with shiny pink font, a hip, Bratz-esque protagonist in low-slung jeans (perhaps too low-slung as belly button exposure is definitely questionable for material aimed at this age group), and a text written completely in purple font, seven to nine-year-olds will flock to this fairy fable. The book has an undeniably fun, poppy, sugary feel that, whether we like it or not, is a natural part of a young girl's reading diet.

     At only $9.99, this hardcover title will not break a teacher or librarian's budget and will survive being passed from one eight year-old girl to the next. A library or classroom collection in need of a healthy dose of frivolity (or the literary equivalent of cotton candy) will be well-served by Fairy School Drop-out. Easily read in a sitting or two, this piece of fairy fluff will surely fly off the shelves.


Instead of dropping out of school, Shannon Ozirny stayed on for far too long and earned a Master of Arts in Children's Literature and is now completing her Master of Library and Information Studies degree at UBC. She also reviews for Quill & Quire.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
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