Parents' Guide to

The School for Good and Evil, Book 1

By Michael Berry, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 11+

Fractured fairy tale has plenty of twists for fantasy fans.

The School for Good and Evil, Book 1 Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

Community Reviews

age 11+

Based on 12 parent reviews

age 14+

Dangerously BAD messages for girls

This is an interesting story BUT, and it’s a big but, it has really bad messages for girls which concerns me for girls reading independently. The story centers on two girls who find themselves taken from their small village and put in a magical school. The Good school trains students to become the heroes of the story (or their helpers) and the Evil school trains villains (or their henchmen). In their village Sophie is a pretty girl, and she knows it, so she believes she’s destined to be a fairy tale princess and belongs in the Good school. Agatha is looked down upon and Sophie is equally sure that Agatha will be a witch and belongs in the Evil school. Of course we learn Sophie is not meant for the Good school and does not handle that gracefully. Agatha has never been sure of herself and doubts her outer appearance so she is just as confused to find herself in the Good school. The girls and their fellow students wonder about the girls seemingly being in the wrong schools. Plus how can a princess be friends with a witch? This is where the story excels by going against stereotypes. We learn that beauty is really what’s inside and not about outer appearances. Agatha learned she really is beautiful as she is and that she does not need to be a conventional blonde princess. Unfortunately in the process of getting there the author chooses to say really inappropriate things in a book aimed at a young audience. There are multiple references to girls only having value if they are thin. One character says you should never eat breakfast so you don’t get fat which is the kind of messages that are sent repeatedly throughout this book. Obviously this is a dangerous message to be sending to girls. There is too much risk today of girls taking this kind of messaging to heart and adding to problems of insecurity or encouraging dangerous dieting or eating disorders. When I was considering this book for my daughter I saw no warning anywhere about this. Thankfully I read it aloud to my kids do I could edit as I was reading the many times something inappropriate was written. This makes it a problematic book to review. I would strongly recommend against having a girl read this book independently. If you read it aloud you could edit or stop and discuss the problematic messages. I think the author intends to point out that beauty is what is on the inside but too often had characters only obsessed with their looks, particularly their weight. As this story is a journey it may not be clear to a reader that the characters are wrong as they are never corrected. As a story overall it was fun. I enjoyed reading it and found myself reading extra chapters to my kids because I wanted to know what happened next. There was an interesting cast of characters, like the inclusion of King Arthur’s son and not just conventional story characters. I bought this story for my fairy tale loving daughter but her older brother, who hates all things princess, got hooked too. He liked the darker aspects and the evil school and requested I not read it aloud without him. My daughter was not a big fan of the darker parts but they balanced out enough that it didn’t bother her too much. Luckily the story usually goes back and forth between the two girls and their schools in each chapter so the darker parts don’t last too long. Again a fun story but a big concern about the messages that are sent.
11 people found this helpful.
age 13+

Parents - please reconsider the age limits - not appropriate for under 12, in my opinion

"Rafal's hand found her waist, pulling her in, and he pressed his lips to hers. His mouth was delicate yet firm, and from the moment it touched hers, Sophie felt her thoughts go silent, rapturously silent, like a dark bomb had imploded in her head. . . He'd kissed her before, but this time she kissed him back harder . . . she knew there was no more guilt or doubt or shame, because she'd found love . . . rafal's lips floated off hers . . . She kissed her beautiful boy again, biting his lip so hard she tasted blood. Rafal licked his lips with pleasure and ran his hands through her hair."

This title has:

Too much sex
6 people found this helpful.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (12):
Kids say (90):

The School for Good and Evil is no run-of-the-mill fairy tale spin-off. Author Soman Chainani has clearly done his homework in folklore and mass media, and he manipulates the clichés of fantasy and folklore with a great deal of wit and insight. This opening volume to the series feels a little long, however. Agatha and Sophie attempt new trials, pass or fail in unexpected ways, and then move on to the next contest. The repetition of this pattern grows burdensome across nearly 500 pages. Still, there's a lot of narrative meat here, served up with flair by Chainani and complemented by Iacopo Bruno's black-and-white illustrations.

Book Details

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