Isabelle’s starting the first level of Fairy Godmother Training, and things don’t look good.
Her sister’s a prodigy, and her Grandmomma wrote the rule book on proper fairy-godmother practice—literally—but Isabelle’s more like her scandalous mother, long-banished and the reason for the rules. Well-meaning and enthusiastic, Isabelle struggles with following instructions and studying. If she fails, she’ll have to go to the Fairy Godmother Home for Normal Girls and learn nonmagical work in a sparkle-and-wand–free environment. She’s assigned a practice princess, Nora Silverstein: not actually a princess but a regular girl. Isabelle has six weeks to create Nora’s happily-ever-after, but Nora’s a serious, practical girl, the kind who wishes for impossible-to-grant things like world peace. In spending time with Nora in hopes of discerning a grantable wish, Isabelle strikes a friendship with her—which in itself grants Nora’s wish for a friend. But the happy ending—Isabelle progresses in her training and learns that part of her trouble with reading fine print and rules stems from a need for glasses—is undermined by the revelation that the practice princesses will forget their fairy godmothers. Saving their friendship means breaking yet another rule (and setting up a sequel). Isabelle’s a smart and likable protagonist, and the third-person narration, refreshingly, assumes readers just like her. Isabelle and Nora are both white, but other fairy godmothers and princesses come in all colors.
Underneath the sparkle there’s a solid story. (Fantasy. 6-9)