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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
True beauty is beneath the surface. Love and respect from family and friends help one to overcome low self-esteem.
Positive Role Models
Aza is kind, smart, competent, and gifted in song, and she learns that true beauty is under the skin.
Violence & Scariness
A girl is gagged, tied up, and left in a dungeon cell, then threatened to be killed by a guard or eaten by ogres. Poisoning by apple also threatens death.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Innocent words of love exchanged. Some hand-holding, kissing.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Gail Carson Levine's Fairest is a fairy tale from the author of Ella Enchanted. The heroine, Aza, is refreshingly less attractive than your average protagonist and suffers from quite a bit of self-doubt because of it. Aza is tricked and imprisoned in a dungeon where she's tied up with a gag in her mouth. When she escapes, there's the threat of being killed by a guard or eaten by an ogre. Innocent words of love exchanged, and there's some hand-holding and kissing.
Is It Any Good?
Author Gail Carson Levine has mastered the art of twisting fantasy and creating interesting characters that are likable and somehow relatable to today's kids. Aza is smart, competent, and gifted in song, a highly honored and valuable means of communication in this society. She also can illuse. This skill becomes the tool for the newly married, beautiful young queen to win the hearts of the kingdom.
And so follows a story with adventure, love, and fantasy with a thread common to the tale Sleeping Beauty and a lesson about recognizing what true beauty is.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.