Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Children’s Books: How to Ditch Your Fairy by Justine Larbalestier

If you’ve only read this writer’s wonderful but grim “Magic Or Madness” trilogy, in which the heroine could choose to die young or go insane, you’re in for a surprise from the very, very funny How to Ditch Your Fairy.

Magic is here again, but there are no penalties for using it and no actual magic users anyway.

Imagine a world in which everyone is born with their own personal fairy. You don’t see or hear it, you just see its effects. It might be an always-on-time fairy or one which ensures that cats like you or that you have good hair. You don’t, unfortunately, get to choose. There are ways of exchanging fairies with a co-operative friend, but they’re not easy or pleasant.

Charlie, who attends New Avalon Sports High, is stuck with a parking fairy, which helps find the perfect parking spot. The trouble is, Charlie doesn’t even like cars and is only 14 anyway. Why, she complains, couldn’t she have been born with a shopping fairy like her friend Rochelle, who can always find wonderful clothes at great prices? Or an “every-boy-will-like-you” fairy like that awful girl Fiorenze, who has a constant train of boys following her, including the cute new boy Steffi, who looked like boyfriend material when Charlie first met him?

She just has to get rid of that fairy! Fiorenze, whose parents are fairy experts, is surprisingly willing to trade, and the girls find a way to do it quickly. But Charlie soon finds that you need to be careful what you wish for, as does Fiorenze. Time to find another way to ditch their respective fairies and hope that their places will be filled with more congenial ones. It’s a more dangerous way, but hey, they’re desperate!

This novel is hilarious. It’s a perfectly good young adult novel of the sort teen girls enjoy, but goes where the average teen girl novel doesn’t. One element makes all the difference.

Highly recommended for girls from 14 upwards.

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