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For Biddle's Sake

For Biddle's Sake

4.5 4
by Gail Carson Levine, Mark Elliott (Illustrator)

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There she was, chartreuse and warty and smiling at him. Such a nice smile. Something in his heart fluttered.

The young maiden, Parsley, will eat nothing but parsley, which in Snettering-on-Snoakes grows only in the fairy Bombina's garden. All is well -- until Bombina is released from the fairy queen's dungeon. Her crime? Failing


There she was, chartreuse and warty and smiling at him. Such a nice smile. Something in his heart fluttered.

The young maiden, Parsley, will eat nothing but parsley, which in Snettering-on-Snoakes grows only in the fairy Bombina's garden. All is well -- until Bombina is released from the fairy queen's dungeon. Her crime? Failing to get along with humans. And turning them into toads!

Meanwhile, twin princes Randolph and Rudolph are causing trouble at Biddle Castle and pinning everything on their younger brother, Tansy. Prince Tansy cares about Biddle. Randolph and Rudolph don't. But one of the twins will be king, unless Prince Tansy accepts help from a green Biddlebum Toad!

A delightful retelling of the little-known German fairy tale "Puddocky," this fifth Princess Tale from Newbery Honor author Gail Carson Levine shows that nothing is quite as it seems and that anything is possible, with a dash of magic and a barrel of love.

Editorial Reviews

ALA Booklist
The real draw of these attractively designed books is the inventive use of folkloric elements woven into charming, original stories.
Publishers Weekly
A pair of titles join Gail Carson Levine's Princess Tales series, illus. by Mark Elliott: The Fairy's Return, a spoof on "The Golden Goose"; and For Biddle's Sake, based on a little-known German tale, "Puddocky," about a girl who must put her own magic to work in order to fight off her guardian fairy's penchant for turning people into toads. (Oct.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal
Gr 3-6-Light and breezy additions to the series. In For Biddle's Sake, young Parsley is turned into a toad by Bombina the fairy, and must convince Prince Tansy, the long-suffering younger brother of mean twins, to propose marriage to her in order to break the spell. In The Fairy's Return, a princess and a baker's son are infatuated with one another; Lark loves that Robin dares to joke with her, and Robin loves that she enjoys his jokes. Both fathers are against the friendship, and so years pass, until they are 15 and can finally wed after a fairy helps Robin perform three impossible tasks. Elements of various fairy tales, including "The Golden Goose," "Rapunzel," and "Puddocky," make their way into these funny stories. Eccentric and misguided characters abound; Robin's father, who fancies himself a genius poet, comes up with non-rhyming gems like, "Royalty and commoners must never mix./Remember this, or you will be in a predicament." Kids will love figuring what word he should have used in each poem, they'll cheer for the plucky heroines, and they'll relish the fairy-tale endings.-Eva Mitnick, Los Angeles Public Library Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Levine continues her winning series of Princess Tales (The Princess Test and The Fairy Mistake, both 1999), creating two new stories from well-known classics. In For Biddle’s Sake, elements of Rapunzel, the Frog Prince, and various quest tales recombine. Parsley, so named because that’s all she wants to eat, forces her dad to steal it from the very disagreeable fairy Bombina. When she catches him—just after she gets out of jail for the crime of not getting along with humans—she takes Parsley to live with her. Parsley grows up so charming she even warms Bombina’s heart; it’s that smile, even if her teeth are green. Bombina’s specialty is turning people and things into toads, and one day, quite accidentally, she turns Parsley into one. Parsley, meanwhile, is smitten with Tansy, the young princeling of the kingdom of Biddle, whose hopes for ruling wisely and well are thwarted by the fact that his obnoxious twin brothers are older. The king sends the boys on a quest, Parsley assists Tansy while in her toad guise, Tansy falls in love—Parsley’s smile is lovely even when she’s a toad—and breaks the spell, and Bombina even manages not to toadify the twins. The Fairy’s Return conflates the weeping princess and the sticky goose. Robin the baker’s son falls in love with Princess Lark, but they cannot marry because he’s a commoner. Robin makes wonderful jokes that his father and twin brothers never let him finish. They are poets and wordsmiths and consider Robin simpleminded. (The twins make up words. Their father spouts couplets, wherein the last word is always a synonym for the one that would rhyme. Readers will have a fine time with that one.) The fairy Ethelinda has beenflying for years, afraid to bungle her human interaction, but manages to solve Robin and Lark’s dilemma with judicious use of the sticky goose and her ability to consume vast quantities of food and drink. This is all done in deliriously funny and well-wrought prose, full of sly wit and clever asides. Getting all the references is not required for laughing aloud. (Fractured fairy tales. 7-12)

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Princess Tales Series
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
4.00(w) x 7.00(h) x 0.62(d)
770L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

When she was two years old, Patsy tasted a sprig of parsley at a traveling fair. She loved it, and from that moment on, the only food she would eat was parsley. After a while her parents, Nelly and Zeke, began to call that, Parsley.

The trouble was that parsley grew in only one spot in the village of Snettering-on-Snoakes, and that spot was the garden of the fairy Bombina, who was renowned for turning people into toads.

Nelly said she couldn't let her daughter starve, and Zeke, who rarely spoke, nodded.

So every Thursday night, Zeke would Lead for Rosella Lane, where he'd climb the high wall that surrounded the fairy's garden. He'd stuff a sack full of fresh parsley and return home. His stealing went undetected for three years because Bombina was serving time in the dungeon of Anura, the fairy queen. Bombina's crime was failure to get along with humans.

Meanwhile, Parsley grew into a plump, happy child with a lovely smile, in spite of teeth that were stained a pale green.

Then Bombina returned.

That Thursday evening, she strolled in her garden and saw Zeke gathering armloads of parsley. Armloads! She would have turned him into a toad on the spot, but she had already reached Anura's legal limit of five human-to-toad transformations per fairy per year, and she didn't want to go back to jail.

"What are you doing?" she shrieked.

Zeke grabbed the parsley and ran. Bombina stood on her left foot and blinked twice. Zeke froze, unable to move a muscle. Bombina thought of turning him to stone, but stone wasn't her specialty. Her specialty was toads.

"Why are you stealing my parsley?" she thundered. Thenshe unfroze Zeke's mouth.

Zeke wasn't used to talking. So even though his mouth could move, it didn't.

Bombina dropped her voice to a sugary whisper. I can turn you into a chicken ... " She never ran out of legal chicken transformations. "A clucking-"

Zeke found his voice. "It's for m-my d-daughter."

His daughter? Anura always said that fairies should be kind to children. Fairies Who were kind were her favorites. Bombina was on probation, and she was definitely not one of the fairy queen's favorites.

"Bring your daughter to me."


"Bring your daughter to me!" Bombina unfroze all of Zeke.

He stumbled once, then started to run.

"And drop the parsley."

Back in their cottage Zeke told Nelly what Bombina had commanded. Nelly began to run around frantically, bumping into Zeke and shouting that she wasn't bringing her precious daughter to anybody. Zeke ran around frantically too, and he bumped into Nelly when she wasn't bumping into him.

Bombina materialized in the cottage, right next to Parsley's bed. "Is this your daughter?"

Parsley awoke and sat up, blinking in the bright light that flashed around Bombina's big pink wings.

"Hello, child," Bombina boomed.

Parsley was frightened. She'd never seen anyone so enormous or so grumpy looking.

"What's your name, honey?"

Parsley said, "Parsley," in a small voice.

"Parsley!" Bombina whirled on Nelly and Zeke. "You dared to name your daughter after my parsley?"

Nelly held her ground. "We named her P-Patsy, Your G-Graciousness, but-"

"Silence!" Bombina leaned over the bed. "Why do you like parsley so much, Parsley?"

Parsley didn't know why. She just did.

She stared at Bombina and didn't say anything.

"Answer the nice fairy," Nelly said. "Tell her why ... "

She's a fairy? Parsley thought. She'd been taught that fairies were gentle and good. Then this one was only pretending to be mean. She smiled up at Bombina.

Nothing was sweeter than Parsley's smile.

A tiny corner of Bombina's heart melted. "Harrumph." She cleared her throat. And had a brilliant idea. Anura would be delighted! "I will take the child home to live with me. Then Parsley can eat parsley whenever she likes."

Live with a fairy! Parsley was thrilled. Maybe she'd learn magic. "Can I, Mama?"

A tear trickled down Nelly's cheek.

A tear trickled down Zeke's cheek.

"Well?" Bombina yelled. "Can she?"

Nelly and Zeke couldn't refuse a fairy. Nelly said, "Yes, Parsley gumdrop, you can go."

Chapter Two

Nearby in Biddle Castle, Prince Tansy was in the throne room with his brothers, Prince Randolph and Prince Rudolph, who were arguing as usual. Randolph and Rudolph were twins, and they were nine years old, two years older than Tansy. No one else was in the room.

Tansy could tell the twins apart because Randolph's left nostril was slightly larger than his right nostril, and Rudolph's right nostril was slightly larger than his left.

"The right hand, fool!" Randolph held King Humphrey IV's gilded wooden scepter just beyond Rudolph's reach. "A king holds the scepter in his right hand."

"The left hand, numskull!" Rudolph twisted Randolph's nose and tried to grab the scepter.

With his free hand Randolph twisted Rudolph's nose.

Tansy removed Rudolph's fingers from Randolph's nose and Randolph's fingers from Rudolph's nose. He said, "I think-"

"You don't have to think," Randolph said, trying to grab some part of Rudolph again.

"You'll never be king, Tansy," Rudolph said, lunging for the scepter and getting one hand on it.

Randolph tried to yank the scepter away from Rudolph.

Rudolph hung on and tried to yank it away from Randolph.

Tansy said, "Stop, You'll break it."

Crack! The scepter broke in half.

Randolph and Rudolph dropped their halves and ran out of the throne room. Tansy ran too, although he knew what was going to happen next. The Royal Guards were going to find the three of them. Randoph and Rudolph were going to tell King Humphrey IV that he, Tansy, had broken the scepter, and King Humphrey IV was going to believe them, no matter what Tansy said ...

For Biddle's Sake. Copyright © by Gail Levine. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Gail Carson Levine's first book for children, Ella Enchanted, was a Newbery Honor Book. Levine's other books include Ever, a New York Times bestseller; Fairest, a Best Book of the Year for Publishers Weekly and School Library Journal, and a New York Times bestseller; Dave at Night, an ALA Notable Book and Best Book for Young Adults; The Wish; The Two Princesses of Bamarre; A Tale of Two Castles; and the six Princess Tales books. She is also the author of the nonfiction books Writing Magic: Creating Stories That Fly and Writer to Writer: From Think to Ink, as well as the picture books Betsy Who Cried Wolf and Betsy Red Hoodie. Gail Carson Levine and her husband, David, live in a two-centuries-old farmhouse in the Hudson Valley of New York State.

Mark Elliott is the illustrator of many picture books and novels for young readers, including Gail Carson Levine's ever-popular Princess Tales series. He lives in New York State's Hudson River Valley.

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For Biddle's Sake 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
For Biddle's Sake is a wonderful book! It not only has magical moments it has hilarious parts that make you laugh uncontrollably!!!!!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
i loved every single part of the book