Review of THE FAIRY’S MISTAKE by GAIL CARSON LEVINE
(first in THE PRINCESS TALES series)
I adore Levine’s work. Known most for her first book ELLA ENCHANTED, Levine always hits that perfect balance between sweet and smart in her various fairy tale twists and retellings.
In THE FAIRY’S MISTAKE, a well-intentioned fairy stirs up trouble by not thinking through the consequences of her actions. She rewards a kind-hearted young girl with the gift of jewels tumbling from her mouth whenever she speaks and punishes the girl’s selfish sister with the curse of bugs and snakes emerging in a likewise fashion. Cruel fate, though, twists the reward to a punishment and the punishment to a reward. Rosella, the generous and compassionate jewel vomiter, doesn’t care that much for wealth...but everyone around her does. Not only does she find herself swarmed with false friends constantly urging her to talk on while they catch the precious stones falling from her lips, but this “reward” hurts. Rosella’s throat soon feels scraped raw from the jewels that manifest there every time she speaks and scratch their way up into her mouth to cut her gums and crack a tooth if she isn’t careful. Meanwhile, Rosella’s self-centered sister Myrtle learns to make spiders and vipers slithering from her mouth work to her advantage. No one else likes those things much either, so she holds the threat of speaking over people’s heads until they give her what she wants.
The story’s smart, the writing’s smart, and the characters are smart. Levine twists familiar tales in unexpected ways, fills the pages with amusing and witty quips, and crafts characters who can always think their way out of tough situations.
One can easily read these slim middle grade novels in one sitting. They’re timeless stories, too - great read-a-louds for younger children and still entirely enjoyable as an adult.