Whatever After: If the Shoe Fits {a book review}

Book Review / Monday, November 11th, 2013

Recently, my nine-year-old (4th grade) daughter brought home a book she borrowed from the school library: Whatever After: If the Shoe Fits by Sarah Mlynowski , the second book of a 4-book series. 

I’d never heard of the Whatever After series before and I was curious about it so decided to read along with her. Of course, she ended up finishing it without me so I read it after she finished. I felt a little silly at first, reading a young girls’ book on my own, but I secretly really enjoyed it. I couldn’t wait until I had some reading time so I could pick it back up again. It was a very exciting read, I felt like I was on an adventure with the characters and couldn’t wait to see how it all turned out. 

If you haven’t heard of this series, from what I’ve gathered, the two main characters, Abby and Jonah – a sister and brother – get sucked into a magic mirror and land in a different Fairytale unintentionally altering the original story line and mixing everything up. In If the Shoe Fits they land in the Cinderalla story. They take a stroll through the Snow White story in the first book, plunge into the life of the Little Mermaid in book 3, fall deeply into the Sleeping Beauty dream world in book 4 and entangle themselves in a new adventure in book #5, Bad Hair Day coming out in April 2014. I added the book series to my daughter’s ‘wish list’ for me…I mean her. 🙂

I have to admit, when I first started reading If the Shoe Fits, I was on the defensive and prepared to not like it. I expected this to be just another book about a bratty girl who hates her brother and parents and expects to get whatever she wants. I also presumed this might be another “girl power” book and all the females would break out into a song about how they can do all and be all and don’t need any help from anyone – especially not a man.

I was very happily proved wrong – mostly. In the end, the main character, Abby, grows up a lot while she learns first-hand about individual responsibility and the power of generous teamwork. The other characters learn these same vital lessons without too much male bashing – if any. I’m impressed with how the author weaved all the characters together and exemplified how a ‘modern’ woman can learn to take care of herself without growing a big head or male-hating heart in the process. As far as the sibling relationship goes, Abby does get frustrated with her little brother – like any sister – but it’s still clear she loves him and wants to watch out for him. And, in her brother’s defense, Jonah comes up with some good ideas of his own as well. They are more like a team than enemies – which I appreciated. Though the parents did not take an active role in this story, I also liked the way Abby’s attitude toward them developed throughout the adventure, ending with her deciding to try and help out around the house more instead of just griping about what they weren’t doing for her.)

All in all, the creative and engaging style of this book together with the underlying lesson of the importance of good old-fashioned hard work and teamwork is what won me over with this particular book in the end. It also contains real life lessons in basic business skills and economics. I can’t speak about the other books in the series yet but I’m hopeful and excited to read them soon. I’m impressed with this author’s creative talent and may check out some of her other books in the future.

Final analysis: If you are looking for a good book for a girl in the 3rd – maybe 5th (?) grade age and reading level, I’d recommend these. (Unless you have a ban on anything magical or fantastical, then you probably wouldn’t like these even though I, personally, consider the type of magical fantasy fiction in this book harmless.)

I asked my daughter to write about what she liked about If the Shoe Fits for this review and this is what she wrote:

What I liked about this book series was that …

Abby and her brother,  Jonah, were sucked up into different fairy tales in every book.

Mary Rose is the fairy who lives in the magic mirror and also sends them to the different fairy tales in the magic mirror and also sends them to the different fairy tales in the books you may want to read.

They don’t know who Mary Rose is, one of the reasons I like the book also. It’s a mystery!

Hope you like the series of books !

Have you or your daughters read these book series? If so, what did you think?

(P.S. There was something else I forgot to mention about how this book approached beauty and looks compared with “brains” and kindness but I’ll save for another post.)

4 Replies to “Whatever After: If the Shoe Fits {a book review}”

  1. Yup. I think your comments are right on target. I like how you included Alaina’s review as well. Our school librarian is looking into getting the series for our school.

  2. I have never left a comment before, but wanted to leave a thank you note for your review of these books. As a Catholic Mom, I worry about the newer books being published and just don’t have the time or interest to read all that is in front of my children at the bookstore and library. I plan on letting my daughter read these now, based on your review.

    Thank you!

    Bobbie Serrano,
    Katy, TX

  3. Thank you, Bobbie for your comment – which you did successfully! You should comment more often. 🙂
    I hope your daughter likes it! I hear on you on not having time to read everything they do. I used to think I would “pre-read” everything before her but she’d never get to read anything if we did that. I just try and ask her questions about it and be there to answer anything that may be confusing. Books have been a good way to initiate conversations we may not have had before.
    Erika Marie recently blogged…The Comparison Parenting Trap My Profile

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