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Flunked (Fairy Tale Reform School) Hardcover – March 3, 2015
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From School Library Journal
Gr 4–7—Twelve-year-old Gilly is mostly happy living in a shoe with her parents and five siblings. Times are hard, though, especially since Cinderella's fairy godmother stole Gilly's father's design for the glass slipper. To help feed her family, Gilly steals food and trinkets from the wealthier residents of Enchantasia. Upon her third arrest for theft, Gilly is sentenced to three months in Fairy Tale Reform School, a juvenile detention facility run by Cinderella's Wicked Stepmother and other famous fairy tale antagonists. Fans of Liesl Shurtliff's Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin (Knopf, 2013) and Christopher Healy's The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom (HarperCollins, 2012) will find much to love in this fast-paced romp. While Gilly picks pockets without remorse, previously evil fairy tale villains have turned over a new leaf. The Evil Stepmother has made amends with Princess Ella and now helps Enchantasia's youngest criminals embrace their own inner virtue. The Big Bad Wolf is now Professor Wolfington, a popular teacher despite his bulging muscles and wolfish grin. While gargoyle attacks, suspicious behavior, and magical mayhem provide plenty of action, Gilly's constant self-sacrifice and insatiable need to spy on her teachers get old quickly. Drawings of news scrolls throughout the story help break up the text and may entice reluctant readers, though seasoned readers will predict the true antagonist long before the big reveal. VERDICT Gilly's plucky spirit and determination to oust the culprit will make Flunked a popular choice for tweens.—Leigh Collazo, Dulwich College, Suzhou, China
"This enjoyable series launch creatively incorporates familiar fairy-tale characters and hallmarks-princesses, talking mirrors, spells, and magical beings, from fairies to ogres-along with an engaging and spirited protagonist, abundant plot turns, and witty touches. Overall,
there's much to amuse and entertain fans of classic tales with a twist." - Booklist
"Calonita blithely samples from fairy tales, nursery rhymes, and folklore in this lighthearted first book in the Fairy Tale Reform School series.... Recognizable fairy-tale characters abound (profiles of the school's instructors, like Xavier Wolfington, the wolf from Little Red Riding Hood, appear throughout), and questions of whether goodness or badness run to the core of a person leave readers with plenty to consider." - Publishers Weekly
"Gilly's plucky spirit and determination to oust the culprit will make Flunked a popular choice for tweens" - School Library Journal
"Gilly hates the royals and blames them for her family's poverty. So robbing from the royals doesn't bother her at all. Unfortunately it's still a crime and lands her in Fairy Tale Reform School. But this school is not what she expected, and it just might make a hero of her yet. Fairy tale fans will love this clever and lively tale of magic, friendship, and courage. " - Discovery Girls
"Flunked sounds incredibly innovative and appears to be turning the story of Cinderella's stepmother upside-down. I for one am dying to see the real reason behind Flora's reform school and what is really going down in Enchantasia." - B&N Kids Blog
"A reform school where all the teachers are former villains. Kinda writes itself, right" - SLJ Fuse 8
"Readers will recognize and enjoy the various fairy tales referenced here, as Calonita nods to movie adaptations as well as the original stories, and they'll enjoy her sly incorporation of social media to provide important background informa- tion and character sketches...this clever novel and its smart, endearing cast of characters will have readers enchanted and eager for the implied sequel(s). " - Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"A spoof on folktales... would be enjoyed by students preferring fast-paced mysteries. Recommended
" - School Library Connection
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The main heroine, Gilly, is one of many siblings living in the shoe maker's shoe. Since Cinderella let the Fairy Godmother simply magic up all future glass slippers instead of ordering them from the shoe maker, Gilly's family is poor and barely making it by. Gilly loves her family and helps them the only way she can: she steals from the rich to buy food for her brothers and sisters. Gilly gets caught and ends up in reform school, where Cinderella's step-mother, in attempts to redeem herself, teaches potentially 'gone astray' kids how to become heroes and heroines.
Gilly is quite the character. She's a thief, she's got attitude and she has a mouth. She isn't evil—her heart is in the right place—but she's everything but sweet. But then, nobody at reform school is extremely lovable. These flawed characters are exactly what tweens will love. This borders right along the line between childish fun and teenage drama, causing an exciting and quirky mix. Plus, there's action. Tons of it.
With many of the 'evil' characters from fairy tales running this school, it's hard to know which ones are honestly trying to reform and which ones are acting. It makes it impossible to guess who the real bad guy is or where the danger is coming from, when the plot starts to thicken. Even Gilly's friends crowd the gray-zone, all bordering on becoming villains themselves.
Fans of fairy tales and magic battles will love this one, especially those ages 12 to 16. It's light on the emotional end, keeping focus on the fast paced plot, and holds many problems this age group will understand and identify with.
I like Gilly's quick nimble mind, with her sardonic thoughts of authorities and Royals. After just a few days there, I'm sure that her roommate Kayla is up to something. Perhaps she secretly writes for the magic Happily Ever After Scroll news service. And every adult they've introduced so far seems to not be as reformed as they claim.
It was a fun, quick read, both light-hearted and serious with some surprises and twists.