"A light comic romp...Staniszewski pitches her writing to a middle-school audience in her debut, emphasizing comedy along with non-threatening suspense, and keeps the tone chatty and frothy...[Audiences will] easily will identify with Jenny. Charming."-Kirkus
You know all those stories that claim fairies cry sparkle tears and elves travel by rainbow? They're lies. All lies."-Twelve-year-old Jenny has spent the last two years as an adventurer helping magical kingdoms around the universe. But it's a thankless job, leaving her no time for school or friends. She'd almost rather take a math test than rescue yet another magical creature! When Jenny is sent on yet another mission, she has a tough choice to make: quit and have her normal life back, or fulfill her promise and go into a battle she doesn't think she can win.
There are lots of things to love about this middle grade book. First, it has a feisty and opinionated protagonist--I mean, c'mon people, she fights unicorns. And strange talking magical creatures. Second, she's a golfer. Well, mini-golfer. But still. It's a fun read--perfect for your middle-grader who's sick and tired of the traditional fairy tale. Or not!
Anna Staniszewski is getting fabulous reviews for her debut novel -- I would suggest that perhaps it's a great holiday gift for your favorite middle grader.
And if anyone is interested in meeting Anna, she's doing some appearances for her book--I think I'll be going on November 18 to the Barnes and Noble in Burlington, MA.
Wow, what a fun middle grade novel with fantastic characters, an amazing and witty main character and a magical plot.. Jenny's voice is pitched perfectly for the book's intended audience and her magical problems reflect the real world problems that 9-12 year olds face every day. A very different but original and recommended read!
As I read this book, all I could think was that a 4th or 5th grade me would LOVE this book! Real Kingdoms with all the fairytale creatures? Unicorns? Fairy's? Dragons? Talking frogs? Yes Please!! I think the clincher for me was the talking Gnome! (I have an odd place in my heart for Garden Gnomes!)
I think this book had everything a mid grade novel should have! A lovable main character who learns a lesson (the grass isn't always greener on the otherside) and spouts off good sayings (treat others as you would like to be treated) and learns to accept friends for who they are. (With a lesson on not telling lies thrown in there as well.)
But all those good lessons are masked by a great story! Anna Staniszewski did a wonderful job of creating a new world, as well as the characters that inhabit the world where Jenny is employed as an Adventurer! I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for a fun mid-grade book!
In the acknowledgements for her book My Very UnFairytale Life Anna Staniszewski describes it as her "wacky little book". It is indeed a whacky little book but in a way that is fun and not too ridiculous especially if you are of the age of the intended audience. Elementary school me would have loved this book with a fervent and fierce devotion.
You know all those stories that have fairy godmothers coming into change the lives of ordinary girls? Well this is that in reverse. Jenny is an ordinary girl sent to help change the lives of magical creatures. Instead of being armed with a magic wand, Jenny relies on a repertoire of cheesy cliches to make a difference. Sure sometimes baby dragons try to burn her head off and unicorns charge after her, but that's all part of the fun. Except Jenny is not having much fun. She is in middle school and she wants a life and normal friends. Instead she gets a candy addict gnome guide and an old adventurer who keeps an eye on her. When faced with a saving a kingdom being terrorized by an evil magical clown who tortures prisoners by making them appear in his circus, Jenny decides she can't take it anymore. But normal is not what Jenny expected and she has to consider that maybe adventuring is what she was born to do.
Jenny is an engaging and witty narrator. She is imaginative and adventurous, the sort of girl who dresses up as Indiana Jones for Halloween and releases a jar of spiders into her Kindergarten class so she can "rescue" her classmates. While she does complain quite a bit about her lot in life you can't help but agree that she is being sorely used and mistreated by the mysterious committee who gives her assignments. And Anthony her guide does seem pretty heartless at times. Jenny's voice is pitched perfectly for the book's intended audience and her magical problems reflect the real world problems that 9-12 year olds face every day. There are couple of plot points that aren't really explained or wrapped up well (the disappearance of Jenny's parents, the mysterious committee) and this left me feeling like something was missing.
If you have a young girl in your life who has a spirit of adventure, enjoys fantasy, plucky heroines, and a bit of silly this is the perfect book to put in their hands.
Anna Staniszewski creates a magical world that's totally relatable. You'll find yourself wishing you were alongside Jenny fighting against unicorns (who aren't as peaceful as you think) and traveling to fantastical realms.
Part of the genius behind Anna's premise is that middle readers who like and middle readers who don't like traditional fairy tales will both enjoy it. It's a great middle ground that celebrates the spirit of fairy tales while turning them on their heads.
If your middle reader is looking for a fast-paced and humorous read, this quirky book is a great option.
About the Author
Anna Staniszewski lives outside of Boston, MA with her husband and their adopted black Lab, Emma. She was named the 2006-2007 Writer-in-Residence at the Boston Public Library. When she's not writing, Anna spends her time teaching, reading, and challenging unicorns to games of hopscotch. You can visit her at www.annastan.com.