The Fairy's Mistake (The Princess Tales, Book 1) Book Poster Image

The Fairy's Mistake (The Princess Tales, Book 1)



A fairy's reward and punishment backfire.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The greedy, selfish, mean sister uses her punishment as a reward by blackmailing others into giving her whatever she wants. The good sister agrees to marry a prince just to get out of the house.

Violence & scariness
Not applicable
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that the behavior of both sisters is filled with points for discussion, as the bad sister gets what she wants through blackmail, and the good sister marries a man she does not love.

Parents say

Not yet rated
Review this title!

What's the story?

Rosella helps the fairy, Ethelinda, disguised as an old woman, get a drink of water from the well, and is rewarded by having jewels tumble from her mouth whenever she speaks. Her selfish sister, Myrtle, is punished with bugs and snakes coming out of her mouth. But Ethelinda's plans backfire when Myrtle uses her affliction to force townspeople to give her whatever she wants, while Rosella is married to a greedy prince who only loves her jewels.

Is it any good?


The author's light sense of humor and deadpan descriptions of absurdities, along with the short length and easy-to-read text, make this a delightful snack rather than a heavy meal. But she never talks down to her audience, which makes this a good choice for young readers, reluctant readers, and reading aloud. This is the first of The Princess Tales, a series of short retellings of fairy tales by the Newbery-honored author of Ella Enchanted

Some may find the values here a little questionable: Myrtle's outrageous behavior is never punished, bringing success to her and her nasty mother. She even helps Rosella deceive the prince to get him to behave somewhat better, but he still gets to keep half of the jewels Rosella produces, while she gets to give the rest to the poor. But it's all meant in fun, and it's unlikely any young readers will take Myrtle as their role model.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how the fairy's reward and punishment are exploited. Do you think she could have foreseen the consequences? Would you be happy if jewels fell out of your mouth every time you spoke?

Book details

Author:Gail Carson Levine
Illustrator:Mark Elliott
Genre:Fairy Tale
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:HarperCollins Children's Books
Publication date:August 29, 2004
Number of pages:87
Publisher's recommended age(s):7 - 11

This review of The Fairy's Mistake (The Princess Tales, Book 1) was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Teen, 13 years old Written byPrissy_g July 31, 2009


It's good. It's a little book, Small story, Not that interesting for teens.
Kid, 12 years old February 24, 2013


great to teach kids about the importance of thinking before the speak or thinking about thier actions.
What other families should know
Educational value
Teen, 13 years old Written bymargle October 13, 2009

Great for tweens....

I think this book is really funny and most girls would love it. The rest of this series is really good too.