Friday, January 12, 2018

Isadora Moon goes to school by Harriet Muncaster

Isadora's mother is a fairy and her father is a vampire. She has a great life - she loves her fluttering wings and being awake during the day, she does NOT like red drinks (especially tomatoes) and taking baths in the pond. Then her parents tell her she must go to school. Vampire or fairy school? They decide she must try both. At fairy school Isadora tries to wish for carrot cake - her favorite - but gets a giant carrot. She's not allowed to wear her sparkly black tutu in dance and as a result fails miserably. Finally, she picks unlucky (and poisonous) toadstools for her flower crown! Maybe she really is a vampire and not a fairy at all. At vampire school, she finds out that she can't fly in fast formation like the vampires, she hates the tomatoes and other red food they all eat, and her beloved pink rabbit toy lets everyone's bats escape. Isadora is miserable - where does she belong?

After she talks to some of the human children outside their gate, whom she's never dared approach before, Isadora wonders if she's something unique and special - herself. Perhaps there's a school that will be just right for her?

Isadora and the other fantasy creatures are all white, the human children a diverse group. The illustrations are all in black, white, and gray with pink wash over the fairy scenes and pink accents when Isadora is with the vampire side of her life. The message about diversity and what it's like to come from two different cultures is emphasized, but I have mixed feelings about it. Her parents are, to put it mildly, clueless about Isadora's miserable experiences and both stick strongly to wanting her to go with their side of the family, although in the end they approve of her choice. It's nice to see the humans shown as accepting of differences and a good place for Isabella to celebrate her differences, but the message seems to be that if you're biracial there's no place for you in either heritage and you have to find a new place for yourself.

Verdict: I might be (probably am) overthinking this. It's a cute and funny story with adorable illustrations and a friendly, cheerful message. The vocabulary is a little advanced for a beginning chapter book, but I can definitely see kids enjoying this. So, a nice addition to your library if you want more beginning chapter books but not necessarily a good choice for diversity.

ISBN: 9780399558214; Published 2016 by Stepping Stone/Random House; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

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