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FLUNKED (Fairy Tale Reform School, Book 1)

Author: Jen Calonita

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Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, 2015

Material: hard cover

Summary: Gillian "Gilly" Cobbler (12) has been tailing a group of royals all day, waiting for the moment that she can grab one of the royal's glittery gold hair clip. Her sister Anna (10) adores Rapunzel's hair-care line, and would love this birthday present. Score! Not. So. Fast. Just as she's presenting her gift, police dwarfs Pete and Olaf arrive. No more warnings, Gilly is on her way to Fairy Tale Reform School. To Gilly's surprise, FTRS isn't all bad. It is definitely more spacious than the family shoe, with as much food as she wants and a bigger bedroom with just one roommate! She is also making friends. Still, it's not all happiness and rainbows. After Gilly saves the Princesses from harm during their visit to FTRS, she has earned her freedom. What will she do: walk away from her friends who may be still in danger? or go home to the family she misses so desperately? This is the first title in the Fairy Tale Reform School series

Type of Reading: bedtime story, independent reading, read aloud book

Recommended Age: read together: 9 and Up; read yourself: 10 and Up

Interest Level: 9 to 13

Reading Level: 4.8

Young Reader Reaction: Review pending.

Adult Reader Reaction: The premise of turning evil into good is fun, and has great potential. Gilly, Jax, Kayla, Ollie, and Maxine are fast friends with whom kids will connect. Jocelyn is an interesting character and it will be interesting to see how she develops. I also love the Happily Ever After scrolls. They are great for adding backstory to characters, as well as breaking up text for readers who want content in shorter bites.

Although I enjoyed the story, Flunked aligns too closely with the Disney-fied versions of Cinderella, Rapunzel, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, and The Little Mermaid for me. There are little changes; for example "Ella's" step-sisters are Azalea and Dahlia. Still, I felt like I was watching a Disney Channel show.

Pros: There's more than meets the eye in Enchantasia - and it isn't just the magic!

Cons: There is a Disney-fication of the classic fairy tale characters who are the staff of the Fairy Tale Reform School.

Borrow or Buy: Borrow. This is a fun bedtime story for preteens. If you're looking for a fractured fairy tale for older kids, this is a great selection.


Educational Themes: Older readers may enjoy "pulling out" the various pieces of the fairy tales they grew up with. Contrast the stories as presented here, with the versions they know - and talk about how stories evolve. Another idea is to ask readers to create their own "Happily Ever After Scroll" with the biography of one of their beloved childhood fairy tale character.

Notes: The publisher donated a copy of this book knowing that we would consider it for review and provide an independent, unbiased profile. This book will be given to a nonprofit to help readers in need.

Literary Categories: Fiction - fairy tale, middle grade series, humor

Date(s) Reviewed: December 2015

Other Reviews: See Critics' Reviews and reader feedback at and


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