Thursday, May 21, 2015

MG Fantasy/Fairytale Retelling: Flunked by Jen Calonita

21996359Hardcover, 256 pages
Published:  May 3rd, 2015 
by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Genres: MG Fantasy, Fairytale Retelling 
Source:  Publisher via Goodreads First reads 

Twelve-year-old Gillian Cobbler is a pretty good thief who only steals from the Royals, they're the ones least likely to miss it.  Gilly has only the best of intentions, taking what she can and exchanging it for food or presents for her brothers and sisters. Gilly's father is the shoemaker of Enchantasia who invented the glass slipper.  Unfortunately, since Ella's fairy godmother took over making all glass slippers, the family business has suffered and that is when she began stealing.  So, when Gilly gets caught stealing for the third time, she is taken away to Fairy Tale Reform School.  A school who's mission is to "turn wicked delinquents and former villains into future heroes."    Interestingly enough the school is run by reformed villains  themselves like Flora (Cinderella's evil stepmother), Xavier Wolfington (Red Riding Hood's wolf), Madame Cleo (Ariel's Sea Witch) and Professor Harlow (Snow White's evil queen.).  But things at Fairy Tale Reform School are not all that they seem, and questions begin to arise as to whether the school is really able to reform its villain's.   

"There was an old woman who lived in a shoe.

She had so many children, she didn't know what to do.
She gave them some broth without any bread;
And whipped them all soundly and put them to bed." (by Mother Goose)

    I couldn't help thinking of the nursery rhyme when I picked up Flunked.  All those people living in one shoe, what are they to do?  I can't say I've read many stories written about the shoemakers daughter either.  When I think of fairy tales, characters like Snow White, Rapunzel and Cinderella come  to mind, so it is refreshing to have Ginny as our story teller.  We see how she's come to believe that thieving is the answer to what her family needs and why she feels that life just isn't fair.  But, what she ultimately learns is the bigger message of the story.  "How you handle yourself in such situations and what you learn from them that will define you." I really enjoyed how strong and confident Gilly was.  She truly had the best of intentions for her family and used the extra money she got from selling the things she stole to buy food for her siblings.   Flunked is the first book in this new series and includes lots of fairytale characters, ogres, goblins, mermaids, fairies, gnomes even Pegasi.  There are some fun twists and turns as Gilly is trying to find out who she can trust at school.  Overall, I thought this was a very good introduction to the world of Enchantasia with plenty of mystery, action and nice character growth.  My one small quibble was keeping the evil stepmother and evil queen straight whenever their names (Flora and Professor Harlow) were not used, but my kiddo didn't even notice this.  A nice addition to the various fairytale retellings that have been releasing lately, I look forward to getting to know the other students at the Fairy Tale Reform School better in the next book of the series..  

In exchange for an honest review, an ARC was received from the publisher for free via Goodreads First reads. 


  1. I would love to read this book! The cover is cute and the story sounds like such fun. I am a sucker for fair tale books with twists. I look forward to reading Flunked. Thanks for sharing. :)

  2. I like Calonita's writing, but I couldn't do another fairy tale/fantasy title. There are so many of them, and so few of my students request them. Glad you enjoyed it.