Cover image for The fairy's mistake
The fairy's mistake
Levine, Gail Carson.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : HarperCollinsPublishers, [1999]

Physical Description:
87 pages : illustrations ; 19 x 11 cm
In this humorous retelling of a Perrault tale, the fairy Ethelinda rewards one twin sister for good behavior and punishes the other for bad, only to discover that her punishment is more pleasing than her reward.
General Note:
"The princess tales."
Reading Level:
510 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 4.0 1.0 41121.

Reading Counts RC 3-5 5.5 4 Quiz: 21929 Guided reading level: O.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Juvenile Fiction Childrens Area
X Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf
X Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



Gail Carson Levine charmed the world with Ella Enchanted, her spirited retelling of the Cinderella story. Now this award-winning author turns her attention to two more classic fairy tales, and deftly turns them upside down and inside out with her trademark wit and hilarity.

In The Fairy's Mistake, two very different sisters have two very different encounters with the fairy Ethelinda. Rosella is kind and helpful. Her reward: Jewels and gems tumble out of her mouth whenever she speaks. Myrtle is rude and spiteful. Her punishment: Bugs and vipers slither out of her mouth. The fairy Ethelinda feels she's meted out justice just right--until she discovers Rosella has been locked up by a greedy prince and Myrtle is having the time of her life!

In The Princess Test, King Humphrey has decided it's time for his son, Prince Nicholas, to marry. But he must make sure the bride is a real princess. So he devises a series of princess tests, designed to weed out the phonies and the fakes. Meanwhile, Nicholas has fallen in love with Lorelei, a mere blacksmith's daughter. She's no princess, but he wants to marry her all the same--but how will she ever pass the terrible tests?

In these first two delightfully entertaining, laugh-out-loud Princess Tales, Gail Levine gently spoofs the notion that fairies are always right and that tests can ever prove a person's worth, but holds fast to the notion that true love will always win in the end.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 3^-6. Levine follows her splendid reworking of the Cinderella story, Ella Enchanted (1997), with Princess Tales, two much shorter fairy tale rewrites. In The Fairy's Mistake, which is based on the French folktale "Toads and Diamonds," Ethelinda the fairy is very disappointed when her reward to a nice sister, and her punishment to a nasty one, don't work out as she hoped: the nasty sister finds that threatening people with the bugs and vermin that come out of her mouth is useful; and the kind Rosella's pearls and jewels leave her at the mercy of the greedy. In The Princess Test, a retelling of Hans Christian Andersen's "The Princess and the Pea," a blacksmith's daughter turns out to be even fussier and more delicate than a princess. Although neither story achieves the depth and elegance of Ella, both offer a pleasantly off-kilter spin on old favorites, and their lively style makes them excellent choices for reading aloud. Illustrations by Mark Elliott break up the text. --Susan Dove Lempke

Publisher's Weekly Review

Levine's talent for hilarious subversion of fairy tale motifs, used to great effect in Ella Enchanted, her Newbery Honor-winning debut, is honed to perfection in this pair of stories, which kicks off the Princess Tales series. In The Fairy's Mistake, Levine revisits the Brothers Grimm's "Toads and Diamonds": fairy Ethelinda rewards kind Rosella, punishes her evil twin sister, Myrtle, and thinks the job is done, only to find out her spells have backfired. In The Princess Test, Andersen's "The Princess and the Pea" gets turned on its head: Lorelei, a blacksmith's daughter, proves that royal lineage is no guarantee of character. Levine once again creates heroines who defy fairy-tale stereotypes. For example, Rosella agrees to marry greedy Prince Harold because "she thought it might be pleasanter to be a princess than to be the widow Pickering's daughter and Myrtle's sister." Similarly, Lorelei, prevented from doing any work since birth because of her extreme sensitivity, is neither spoiled nor selfish. She is, however, prone to accidents and na‹vet‚. It is these unorthodox qualities that will endear Rosella and Lorelei to readers. In fact, Levine gently pokes fun at all of her characters' shortcomings (Ethelinda's ineptitude, King Humphrey's obsessive use of synonyms) and upsets the usual balance of good and evil. Elegant design and Elliott's framed, black-and-white drawings create a timeless effect that plays off nicely against Levine's updated plot twists. This is grand entertainment, likely to appeal to anyone who appreciates deadpan delivery, reluctant royalty and a touch of romance. Ages 7-10. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 3-6-Two novellas that are grounded in well-known tales and set in the magical kingdom of Biddle. The Fairy's Mistake is a play on "Toads and Diamonds," a story from Perrault about gifts given by a witch to two sisters, one kind and the other unkind. The Princess Test is based on Hans Christian Andersen's "The Princess and the Pea." Illustrated with full-page pen-and-ink drawings, both retellings are delightfully lighthearted, with little doubt that good will ultimately triumph over evil. There is a rich use of language and spirited characters, especially the females. Although "The Princess Tales" lack the complexity of plot and fantastical invention found in Levine's Ella Enchanted (HarperCollins, 1997), they make a nice addition to the genre of novels based on and yet departing from traditional tales. Although their short length and sly humor would make the books appeal to reluctant readers, the difficult font makes it hard to recommend them to that audience.-Carol A. Edwards, Sonoma County Library, Santa Rosa, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.