The School for Good and Evil
Every four years, two children are captured from Sophie's village - one beautiful and good, the other quite the opposite. Legend has it that these lost children are taken to the School for Good and Evil - a fabled institution where they will be trained to become fairytale heroes or villains, before eventually their place in the pages of the books that mysteriously appear in the village on a regular basis.
Bored of life in the village, Sophie is determined to be one of the chosen ones, and is quite sure she is beautiful and noble enough to become a fairy tale princess at the School for Good. Meanwhile, her crotchety friend Agatha seems a sure bet to join the School for Evil. But when the two girls are picked, they are astonished to end up in the wrong schools: Sophie is horrified to find herself clad in unattractive black robes, amongst a rabble of aspiring villains taking Uglification lessons, whilst Agatha can't think of anything worse than being forced to don a frilly pink dress as a princess in training. How will the friends cope - and can they help each other to find their rightful places?
Soman Chainani has great fun turning the Disney fairy tale conventions on their head in this entertaining fantasy story. Agatha and Sophie are well-drawn and engaging (if not always likable) characters, and Chainani skilfully incorporates his moral messages that friendship conquers all, and that what's inside is far more important than how you look. With a complex plot, The School for Good and Evil feels a little drawn out in places, but there's no doubt that young readers will gobble up this fun story set in an appealing fantasy world.