In the acknowledgements for her book My Very UnFairytale Life Anna Staniszewski describes it as her "wacky little book". It is indeed a whacky little book but in a way that is fun and not too ridiculous especially if you are of the age of the intended audience. Elementary school me would have loved this book with a fervent and fierce devotion.
You know all those stories that have fairy godmothers coming into change the lives of ordinary girls? Well this is that in reverse. Jenny is an ordinary girl sent to help change the lives of magical creatures. Instead of being armed with a magic wand, Jenny relies on a repertoire of cheesy cliches to make a difference. Sure sometimes baby dragons try to burn her head off and unicorns charge after her, but that's all part of the fun. Except Jenny is not having much fun. She is in middle school and she wants a life and normal friends. Instead she gets a candy addict gnome guide and an old adventurer who keeps an eye on her. When faced with a saving a kingdom being terrorized by an evil magical clown who tortures prisoners by making them appear in his circus, Jenny decides she can't take it anymore. But normal is not what Jenny expected and she has to consider that maybe adventuring is what she was born to do.
Jenny is an engaging and witty narrator. She is imaginative and adventurous, the sort of girl who dresses up as Indiana Jones for Halloween and releases a jar of spiders into her Kindergarten class so she can "rescue" her classmates. While she does complain quite a bit about her lot in life you can't help but agree that she is being sorely used and mistreated by the mysterious committee who gives her assignments. And Anthony her guide does seem pretty heartless at times. Jenny's voice is pitched perfectly for the book's intended audience and her magical problems reflect the real world problems that 9-12 year olds face every day. There are couple of plot points that aren't really explained or wrapped up well (the disappearance of Jenny's parents, the mysterious committee) and this left me feeling like something was missing.
If you have a young girl in your life who has a spirit of adventure, enjoys fantasy, plucky heroines, and a bit of silly this is the perfect book to put in their hands.
Note: I read a proof of this novel obtained from Netgalley. The book will be released on November 1.