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Review: Fairy Mom and Me by Sophie Kinsella

Fairy Mom and Me by Sophie Kinsella
Genre: Contemporary Fantasy
Age category: Chapter book
Release Date: January 2, 2018

Fairy Mom and Me by Sophie Kinsella found its place in my reading list almost directly after The Night Fairy by Laura Amy Schlitz. That’s a tough act to follow; The Night Fairy‘s subtlety contrasted against Fairy Mom and Me’s straightforward narration maybe moreso than it would have if I had read some other books in between. This is not to say that Fairy Mom and Me is poorly written in any way. But it seems almost overly eager to please its audience with an overabundance of adult cluelessness, wacky hijinks, and mean bullies getting their due. The premise is that the narrator Ella has a fairy for a mom. One day Ella will have full-fledged fairy powers, too, but for right now, she gives Mom a hand, mostly by helping her navigate the fairy technology that relies on different codes for different spells.

It’s fun for kids when they can explain things to adults, and technology is one of the categories where they often genuinely know what they’re doing. So on the surface, I really liked the idea of Ella assisting with her mom’s spells. I got a bit stuck, however, when Ella doesn’t so much as help her mother as do every step for her. The mother is so terrible at remembering codes and using magic that she’s less absentminded and more dangerously incompetent. (There’s also a lot of space taken up by the mother transforming in and out of her fairy form.)

The antagonist of the story is a mean girl character who doesn’t seem to have any particular reason for disliking Ella but simply wants to see her fail. This is another element I would have loved to see developed more. Chapter books may be geared towards a young audience, but these readers can often handle way more than adults think. Even picture books, which aim younger still, can have misunderstandings between characters, personality clashes that need to be worked through, and characters who grow and learn. Children can have agency in their adventures while still having parents who are capable and competent.

One minor note on the world of Fairy Mom and Me: Boys can’t have magical powers, which I could see disappointing a lot of readers. There’s so many kids books on the shelves right now that incorporate male characters into what would normally be more “girly” topics. You Don’t Want a Unicorn by Ame Dyckman and It’s Not All Rainbows by Jessika Von Innerebner spring to mind. I didn’t need a male protagonist, but calling out the boys specifically as being incapable of magic just didn’t seem necessary.

Overall, it’s a cute concept in a fine book. I’m sure plenty of young readers will enjoy it and not be bothered by these things that stand out to me as an adult. But it had the potential to be much more.

Rating: 2 out of 5

You can find Fairy Mom and Me on Goodreads

You can also buy Fairy Mom and Me 1 on Amazon. (Affiliate link)

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