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Young readers book reviews for ages 8 to 12 years old

*Philippa Fisher's Fairy Godsister* by Liz Kessler- young readers book review
Also by Liz Kessler:

Emily Windsnap and the Monster from the Deep
Philippa Fisher's Fairy Godsister
by Liz Kessler
Ages 9-12 256 pages Candlewick September 2008 Hardcover    

Eleven-year-old Philippa’s life is about to be turned upside down by the loss of her best friend. The exchange of daisy chains and the promises of letters do very little to ease Philippa’s pain. In Philippa Fisher's Fairy Godsister, healing and growth comes from quite an unexpected direction.

Philippa has grown up in a typical town in a typical home, with not-quite-typical parents. Her parents own a party company, so a bright yellow party van doubles as their family vehicle. Not only do her parents masquerade as clowns sometimes, actually love one another and dress as hippies - they hug her all the time and wave good-byes to her every morning at school from the obnoxiously loud yellow van.

Her escape from this constant embarrassment is her tree house in the backyard, the very same tree house she’s shared with Charlotte, her best friend, where they gossip, sing, and write stories together. Now, though, Charlotte’s family is moving to a country farm after having been neighbors forever. Even her tree house is sad and lonely now with no Charlotte.

While making their farewell daisy necklaces, Philippa finds a daisy that seems taller and brighter than all the other flowers. In a rare moment of whimsy, Philippa tucks the pretty daisy into a little box in the tree house, thinking it might turn into a fairy at midnight - like in the song her mom used to sing to her when she was little. Instead, later that night, Philippa berates herself for believing in such things and tosses the little flower out the window just before midnight.

When the new girl in school, Daisy, shows an immense amount of anger towards her, Philippa can’t figure out what she’s done to annoy Daisy so soon. Because it is Philippa’s job to show the new girl around school, she’s stuck beside someone who obviously doesn’t like her while mourning the loss of her best friend.

The narrative bounces from Philippa’s point of view to random chapters of Daisy’s world. Daisy was given the chance to be a fairy godmother to a sad, lonely human. Unfortunately, Daisy has a pretty big chip on her shoulder when it comes to humans and wants nothing at all to do with Philippa. Being thrown out the window hasn’t done anything to make her feel better about her assignment. Daisy just wants to give out her Three Wishes and move on to her next job.

Though simplistic to a fault - both in storytelling and in basic grammar - the story of Philippa and her fairy “godsister” is a sweet one. Both girls have important, life-changing lessons to learn that will shape their experiences and personalities for the better. The positive message, as well as the silliness involved, makes it a delight.

It might be more enjoyable to the eight to nine-year-old set, rather than middle-schoolers, however. (Philippa Fisher's Fairy Godsister is a half-step above the beloved Junie B. Jones stories, and reads something like the A-Z Mysteries or the Ivy + Bean books.) The young to mid-elementary school set would definitely enjoy the simple, happy sketches sprinkled through out the pretty little purple novel.

Liz Kessler has created a sweet, simple story of emotional redemption and positive self-esteem, weaving in the mysterious world of the fairies, making it a sure joy for little girls. Philippa Fisher's Fairy Godsister is an afternoon’s pleasure. Sometimes, a little happy ending is what we all need.
Young readers book reviews for ages 8 to 12 years old

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  Carolynn Evans/2009 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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