All Willow Doyle wants is to be normal, to fit in at her new school, and to have a best friend. But there’s no way Willow will ever be normal. There isn’t anything normal about her or the Doyle family.
Willow comes from a long line of fairy godmothers and she’s expected to be one too when the time comes. (At the moment she’s merely sprite status.) Maybe that would be cool if it were like the old days when the humans -- known as humdrums -- knew fairy godmothers existed and the fairies didn’t have to keep their fairy status secret. Now they’re stuck helping humans who don’t even believe in them. Rather than help normals, Willow would rather be human. She’s sick of being weird.
When she's given the chance to attend a humdrum elementary school for two weeks, this is Willow's chance to finally experience a normal life -- but will she be able to fit in? And can she find her best friend there, even if her parents discourage making friends with humans?
Fourth Grade Fairy one Why having an older sister is a pain:
• She never lets you touch her stuff.
• She bosses you around all the time.
• She acts like she knows everything.
• Your parents will let her do all kinds of things that you aren’t allowed to do.
• She gets all the new outfits and you have to wear hand-me-downs (even though her favorite color is green, which you hate).
I can think of a lot more reasons, but I would need more paper. Everyone is always surprised to find out Lucinda is my sister. This is because stuff has never spilled on her shirt and her hair never sticks up. She always remembers to say thank you, please, and excuse me. My sister always has her homework done on time, she never snorts when she laughs. Oh, and she can fly.
My sister is a pain.
I lay underneath the hedge in front of my school so I could peek out onto the sidewalk. There was large sign announcing COTTINGLEY FAIRY ACADEMY: TRAINING SPRITES IN THE ART OF FAIRY GODMOTHERING SINCE 1254. Of course the sign was enchanted, so when any humans looked over all they saw was the brass plaque that said cottingley private school in front of a small brick building. Our actual school was the size of a castle, but obviously that would stick out, so it was enchanted too.
A group of kids were coming. I hunkered down so they wouldn’t see me. It was the same group that walked by every morning on the way to their school. I’d been studying them since the summer. As a fairy godmother to-be, I was focused on learning all about humans, or humdrums as we called them, even though I was still only sprite status 2. It was important if I was going to be able to grant wishes someday.
“Willow? What are you doing down there?” My sister wrinkled up her nose. “Your clothes are getting all dirty.”
I spun around to glare at her. Why did my sister have to be so nosy and so loud? I motioned for her to be quiet. The girl named Miranda was in the middle of all of her friends. I scribbled down in my notebook what she was wearing.
“Are you spying on them?” Lucinda asked loud enough so they turned around to look as they went by. I scooted out from under the hedge quickly and whacked against the school sign. I stood up, brushing off my shirt. There was a big grass stain on the sleeve.
“I told you you’d get dirty.” Lucinda crossed her arms. She was only thirteen, but she acted like she was all grown up. “Why don’t you read about Humdrums in books like everyone else?”
“I like them; they’re interesting.”
Another girl wandered by, singing out loud with her music player. She would take a couple steps, stop and do a shimmy dance, and then start walking again. Her outfit had every color in the rainbow. Lucinda looked at me with one eyebrow raised.
“Okay,” I admit, “she’s a weird one, but those other girls were interesting.”
The girl saw us standing by the school gate. She took out her earphones and waved as she walked past. “Hi!”
Lucinda’s mouth pressed into a thin line before giving a stiff wave back. “Great, now the Humdrum is paying attention to us.”
“This isn’t my fault.” I hoped I wouldn’t get in trouble. Fairies weren’t supposed to attract human attention.
“Just like the mud all over your uniform isn’t your fault?”
Before I could say anything, my shirt puffed out with a whistle of wind and all the dirt and mud popped off and drifted back to the ground.
I spun around. “Grandma!” She was leaning against the school gate, her silver hair pulled back into a bun.
“We’re not supposed to use magic to grant our own wishes,” Lucinda said. “It’s against the rules. Number 10.4.01A.”
“Grandmas are allowed to break rules.” Grandma gave me a wink. “Especially when our granddaughters have a big birthday coming up.”
Lucinda’s mouth pinched shut. She was not a fan of breaking the rules. I also didn’t think she’s a big fan of fun. I didn’t have much when she was around, that’s for sure.
“Are you coming to school today?” I asked. My grandma had a full time wish-granting job in the human world as the principal of the Humdrum school, but sometimes she would teach a class for us.
“I just stopped by to drop off some cupcakes.” Grandma pulled a box tied with pink twine out from behind her back. In glittery letters it said across the top ENCHANTED SUGAR BAKERY.
I clapped my hands together. Enchanted Sugar was the best bakery in town, even the Humdrums thought so. My mom owned the bakery and made the best cupcakes in the whole world.
“Her birthday isn’t until tomorrow,” Lucinda pointed out.
“I think birthday cupcakes belong on Monday, it makes the week sweeter. Besides, I wanted to give you my present early.” She pulled a thick silver envelope covered with polka dots from her pocket.
I peeled the flap of the envelope open and slid out a thick piece of white paper. In shiny gold writing it said:
THIS CERTIFICATE ENTITLES WILLOW THALIA DOYLE
CENTERTO ATTEND RIVERSIDE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
(A HUMDRUM SCHOOL) FOR A PERIOD OF TWO WEEKS.
My mouth fell open. I threw my arms around Grandma. This was going to be the best birthday ever!
Eileen Cook spent most of her teen years wishing she were someone else or somewhere else, which is great training for a writer. She is the author of The Almost Truth, Unraveling Isobel, The Education of Hailey Kendrick, Getting Revenge on Lauren Wood, and What Would Emma Do? as well as the Fourth Grade Fairy series. She lives in Vancouver with her husband and dogs. Visit her at EileenCook.com.