Drawn together by a mentoring program and an unusual crow, middle school misfits Salman, Lu, and Blos form a strong friendship, despite teasing by fellow students and the maneuverings of fairies Oberon, Titania, and Puck.
Fairy tale charm and magic are woven into the everyday struggles of three middle-school children, when Bauer (No Castles Here) expands on a plot line from A Midsummer Night's Dream, about a boy whose presence disrupts fairy land's harmony. Bauer's third-person narrative alternately focuses on new kid Salman, a perpetual foster child; Lu-Ellen, the "designated buddy" assigned to help Salman acclimate to seventh grade; and Blos, a socially challenged student who befriends them both; along with first-person chapters from Puck, servant to Shakespeare's Oberon and Titania, who bicker over Salman's fate. Supernatural elements, such as a crow that links human and fairy worlds and the astonishing fecundity of Salman's foster mother's garden, soften but do not blunt the harsh realities faced by the protagonists. Bullies, mental health difficulties, sibling rivalry, social services, and school bureaucracies all provide mystifying obstacles for the children to navigate. While the forbidding social milieu, abetted by fairy mischief, threatens to destroy their spirits, the power of true friendship prevails in this magical yet realistic tale that, quite rightly, makes middle school feel like a trip through a dark and scary forest populated by not-so-friendly creatures. Ages 9-12. (July) Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.
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Random House Books for Young Readers
July 25, 2010
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