Whatever After: Fairest of All by Sarah Mlynowski

Abby and her family have moved to a new town, Smithville, and things in this new place are just not right! For instance:

1. Everyone in Smithville calls Coke, Pepsi, and Orange Crush soda. Pop is a much better name. Pop! Pop! Pop! Coke pops on your tongue. It doesn’t soda on your tongue.
2. The people here do not know how to make a peanut butter and banana sandwich. The right way is to slice the banana up and then press the slices one by one into the peanut butter, preferably in neat and orderly rows. But the kids in my new school mash the bananas, mix a spoonful of peanut butter into the mashed bananas and then spread the whole gloppy mess on their bread. Why oh why would they do that?
3. And now instead of tag they want to play freeze tag, or “Ooo, Let’s All Be Frozen Statues While Abby Runs Around and Around and Around.”

Abby is in need of an escape, and she goes to the library for a dose of fairy tale reality. “No matter how many times you read them, stories always stay the same.” However, maybe not. What if Abby herself causes the fairy tale to change and messes up the happy ending?

This fairy tale reworking is definitely for the younger end of middle grade readers, ages 6 to 10 or so. The narrator, Abby, is ten years old, and a young ten at that. When she and her younger brother Jonah are transported by a magic mirror in the basement of their new house into the fairy tale world, their reactions and plans are definitely childlike. Older readers might scorn these babes in the woods and their rather unsophisticated strategies for “fixing” Snow White’s story, but younger readers could have a lot of fun with Abby and Jonah and their fairy tale adventure. I found the story cute and refreshing after the pseudo-sophistication of so many middle grade fantasies dealing with heavy, heavy themes and events.

There’s a second book in the series due out in January 2013, called Whatever After #2: If the Shoe Fits.

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