Tom Harding is a polite, innocent, blue-eyed English boy. Look again: He is also a demisprite (half fairy, half mortal) who must rescue his father from a 21st-century fairyland that is not “a pink, sugary kind of place.”
“Tom had a moment of unreality. This time yesterday he’d been watching television in the kitchen at home, listening to Mum and Dad chatting and laughing downstairs while they closed up the deli. Now his mother had vanished and his father was living undercover as a bat.” Lively humor and zany plot twists persuade readers to join Tom, his clumsy cousin Pindar and his three larger-than-life fairy godmothers in a lighthearted romp to the realm of Fairy and back to London. The book is peppered with allusions to figures historical, magical and literary—and contains amusing amalgams. (Who would have guessed that Coco Chanel and Joseph Stalin were both demisprites?) Occasional potty humor is balanced by understatements such as “When you’ve just been told you might be about to disintegrate, it’s hard to concentrate on anything else.” Saunders entertains readers of all ages with such escapades as a glass-coffin heist (think "Snow White" meets The Wizard of Oz). Despite oft-repeated threats, violence is always offstage or silly—as in spells that turn bad guys into dung beetles.
Good fantasy fun, British style. (Fantasy. 9-12)