VFP-Graduation2-e1380751080716Title: The Very Fairy Princess: Graduation Girl

Authors: Julie Andrews and Emma Walton Hamilton

Illustrator: Christine Davenier

Publisher: New York, Boston: Little, Brown (part of Hachette), 2014

Genre: Picture book, fiction

Audience Age: 4 to 8 years

Themes/Topics: dealing with change, graduation, new teacher

Opening Sentences: Hello, hello! I’m Gerry! I’m a very fairy princess. Not everyone believes me, and I try not to brag about it too much. (But my wings and crown do give me away a bit.)

Synopsis: Gerry, the rambunctious girl who believes herself to be a VERY fairy princess (despite all evidence to the contrary) is facing a big change in her life. It’s the end of the school year, the class is getting ready for graduation, and they’re having to say goodbye to their beloved teacher, Miss Pym.

Even Gerry, who tackles everything with eagerness and panache, is having trouble dealing with the prospect of a new teacher. I appreciated these lines: “To be honest, I’m having a hard time finding my sparkle about this. (Change is HARD…even for a fairy princess.)”

Gerry’s worries mount, despite all the assurance she receives from Miss Pym, from Mommy and Daddy, even from her brother, Stewart. (That has to be a first. Stewart encouraging her? Admittedly, he does it in a very Stewart-like manner, but still…)

Things get even worse at graduation. Miss Pym attaches Gerry’s fairy princess crown to her graduation mortarboard, but when the kids toss the mortarboards in the air, her crown flies off and disappears.

Will Gerry ever sparkle again? I guess you’ll just have to get the book to find out.

Why I Like this Book: I have a soft spot in my heart for Gerry, the imaginative, bouncy little girl whose mission in life is to encourage people to let their SPARKLE out – to find that spark deep within them that makes them truly unique, and to celebrate it.

This latest in the successful series features much humor, as well as Gerry’s totally true-to-life worries about what life will be like with a new teacher. I can identify with Gerry’s worries.

On my first day of second grade, I stood unmoving at the school gate, sure that we were to go to the new little school that had been moved onto the school grounds – but what if I was wrong? What if I wasn’t supposed to go there? I might be standing there to this day if it weren’t for my friend, Frances, a no-nonsense kid who never let any doubt get in her way. Frances grabbed my hand and dragged me to the little school. And yes, in that class I found all kinds of ways to let my SPARKLE out!

The Very Fairy Princess: Graduation Girl is a realistic, fun, and yes, sparkly way to celebrate graduation and to help kids learn how to deal with change, that inevitable and sometimes uncomfortable part of growing up. Thanks, Emma and Julie! This may be your best one yet!

Activities/Resources: There’s a lot of graduation excitement everywhere (at least in North America!) in May and June. Kids have likely experienced graduation from kindergarten, and know what it feels like to have to go into a new classroom, with a new teacher. Parents and caregivers can talk with them about how to make this change easier.

When students graduate from 12th grade, they often get friends to sign their yearbook. Kids in the target age group of the Very Fairy Princess books can get into the act by making their own yearbook. Start by making a simple booklet – there are links to various sorts of handmade books at Spoonful.com. I’d suggest the “folded booklet.” Have the kids draw pictures of each child in their class on the pages, to make their yearbook of friends, then each child can sign their picture.

Twiggle magazine has some fantastic kids’ graduation crafts, activities, poems and even edible treats! I especially like the upside-down cupcake mortarboard hats. Gerry would have to have a crown on hers. (I’d also suggest sprinkles to add a little SPARKLE!)

Availability: I ordered my copy of The Very Fairy Princess: Graduation Girl through an independent bookstore. I strongly urge you to do the same. Currently, Amazon is restricting access to books published by the Hachette Group, including Graduation Girl, due to unresolved e-book contract issues. This action hurts authors, illustrators, and readers. If you don’t have an independent bookseller nearby, you may order through Merritt Bookstore in Millbrook, NY.

Every Friday, bloggers join together to share picture book reviews and resources, thanks to author Susanna Leonard Hill’s brainchild, “Perfect Picture Book Fridays.” Susanna then adds the books (and links to the reviews) to a comprehensive listing by subject on her blog. Find the entire listing at her “Perfect Picture Books.”

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