FOR BIDDLE’S SAKE by Gail Carson Levine


Age Range: 7 - 12
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Levine continues her winning series of Princess Tales (The Princess Test and The Fairy Mistake, both 1999), creating two new stories from well-known classics. In For Biddle’s Sake, elements of Rapunzel, the Frog Prince, and various quest tales recombine. Parsley, so named because that’s all she wants to eat, forces her dad to steal it from the very disagreeable fairy Bombina. When she catches him—just after she gets out of jail for the crime of not getting along with humans—she takes Parsley to live with her. Parsley grows up so charming she even warms Bombina’s heart; it’s that smile, even if her teeth are green. Bombina’s specialty is turning people and things into toads, and one day, quite accidentally, she turns Parsley into one. Parsley, meanwhile, is smitten with Tansy, the young princeling of the kingdom of Biddle, whose hopes for ruling wisely and well are thwarted by the fact that his obnoxious twin brothers are older. The king sends the boys on a quest, Parsley assists Tansy while in her toad guise, Tansy falls in love—Parsley’s smile is lovely even when she’s a toad—and breaks the spell, and Bombina even manages not to toadify the twins. The Fairy’s Return conflates the weeping princess and the sticky goose. Robin the baker’s son falls in love with Princess Lark, but they cannot marry because he’s a commoner. Robin makes wonderful jokes that his father and twin brothers never let him finish. They are poets and wordsmiths and consider Robin simpleminded. (The twins make up words. Their father spouts couplets, wherein the last word is always a synonym for the one that would rhyme. Readers will have a fine time with that one.) The fairy Ethelinda has been flying for years, afraid to bungle her human interaction, but manages to solve Robin and Lark’s dilemma with judicious use of the sticky goose and her ability to consume vast quantities of food and drink. This is all done in deliriously funny and well-wrought prose, full of sly wit and clever asides. Getting all the references is not required for laughing aloud. (Fractured fairy tales. 7-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2002
ISBN: 0-06-000094-5
Page count: 112pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 2002


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