Mean girls and magic at a school for aspiring guardian angels.
Third-grader Ella is a member of the new class at Guardian Angel Academy, where, through good deeds, young angels earn stamps on their halo cards. The stamps translate to color-changing halos (rather like karate belts), which culminate in the diamond halo that means an angel is ready to be a guardian angel. The students can lose stamps too, for bad behavior. Outgoing Ella—who quickly becomes close with her three dorm-mates—has to suppress her drive for adventure and keep her temper under lock. She is challenged by one-dimensional, priggish mean-girl Primrose, who manipulates Ella’s short fuse, baiting her into misbehavior. When Ella learns that her friend Tilly is miserable from homesickness, she sneaks away from the school to an off-limits location to collect a magical remembering flower to cheer her pal up. A predictable kerfuffle ensues. The uniformly female angels are easiest to tell apart by hairstyle, especially in the attractive, cherubic black-and-white illustrations; though one looks to have light-brown skin on the cover, in the interior illustrations they all appear to be white. The secular angels use magic instead of religious mythology.
With its simplistic plotting and cardboard characterization, this series opener is less than heavenly. (Fantasy. 6-9)