FICTION

Fairest of Them All

224p. ebook available. S. & S./Aladdin. May 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481451307; pap. $7.99. ISBN 9781481451291.
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Gr 4–6—In this sequel to Charmed, I'm Sure, Littman continues her theme of empowering young girls. This novel features Aria, the daughter of Sleeping Beauty, who has a passion for designing clothes. When a Couture Club forms at school, Aria desperately wants to join but knows her parents will not approve; their views on sharp objects are, understandably, harsh. Nevertheless, Aria and her friend successfully devise a plan to participate. When Aria's design is noticed by the casting director for the tween competition series Teen Couture, she continues adding to her list of lies. Even after pricking her finger on an enchanted needle that curses her with "Shakespeak," Aria has trouble being truthful with her parents. Many readers will relate to the dilemma of choosing between doing what they want and being honest. Popular slang and fun references keep this story lighthearted, but Littman also includes words such as subterfuge and vicariously, offering middle graders some challenging vocabulary and food for thought. She quotes Eleanor Roosevelt, encourages readers to be open-minded about new students from different backgrounds, and showcases the power of research. In the end, the characters learn a universal lesson: to find solutions, "maybe it starts with us…If we just paid more attention to one another's tales."
VERDICT A delightful novel for fans of fairy tales, Project Runway, and tween drama.

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