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The World's Worst Fairy Godmother

The World's Worst Fairy Godmother

4.6 5
by Bruce Coville, Katherine Coville (Illustrator)

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Every spell Maybelle Clodnowski casts seems to backfire causing magical mix-ups that throw the entire twon into an uproar. Then she discovers a secret enemy is working against her. Can a good heart triumph over bad magic? Or will Maybelle find herself facing a fate worse than death?


Every spell Maybelle Clodnowski casts seems to backfire causing magical mix-ups that throw the entire twon into an uproar. Then she discovers a secret enemy is working against her. Can a good heart triumph over bad magic? Or will Maybelle find herself facing a fate worse than death?

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Spells backfire to create merry mayhem in Coville's (My Teacher Is an Alien) fluffy tale. Maybelle Clodnowski, a bumbling fairy godmother, has been given one last chance to do her job correctly before her heavenly supervisor strips her of her wings and wand. She is put in charge of reforming young Susan Pfenstermacher, whose quest for perfection has alienated kids and adults alike. Adding to the chaos are Zozmagog, a cherub who, thanks to Maybelle's sloppy godmothering, has been raised as an imp; and Edna Prim, Maybelle's mentor, who has been Fairy Godmother of the Year for 147 years running. The broadly humorous scenarios, despite their fantastic premise, may inspire a worthwhile musing or two on the subject of perfection. Illustrations supply a Bavarian woodslike fairy tale setting. Ages 8-12. (Dec.)

Product Details

Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 7.39(h) x 0.37(d)
570L (what's this?)
Age Range:
10 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

The World's Worst Fairy Godmother

By Bruce Coville


Copyright © 2012 Bruce Coville
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4976-6854-6


Another Fine Mess

Maybelle Clodnowski stood at the edge of the swamp and took two frogs from her apron pocket.

"Here we go," she said, looking at them fondly. "This should suit you just fine."

Before Maybelle could put the frogs into the water she heard someone clear his throat behind her. It was a deep sound. A fierce sound. A definitely disapproving sound.

Maybelle turned around. Her eyes went wide. She swallowed once, then whispered, "Hello, boss."

Mr. Peters was as tall and slender as Maybelle was short and podgy. His nostrils flared and he raised his eyebrows so high Maybelle was afraid they might shoot right over the top of his forehead and keep on going.

"What," he asked in his deepest, crankiest, most boy-are-you-in-trouble-now voice, "what in heaven's name do you think you're doing?"

"Sending the young lovers off to a new life?" asked Maybelle, smiling hopefully.

Mr. Peters scowled.

"They're both happy," Maybelle added defensively.

"Happy?" roared Mr. Peters. "Happy! Maybelle, they're both frogs!"

"Well, they like the outdoors."

Mr. Peters made a rumbling sound deep in his chest. "Maybelle, the Prince of Burundia and the Princess of Ghukistan were not raised to be frogs. They were raised to be rulers of a kingdom."

"Well, I know that, boss. But the poor things really didn't like the idea much, and I was trying—"

"You were trying, you are trying, and it looks very much as if you always will be trying!" roared Mr. Peters. He made a gesture with his hands, and the frogs disappeared. In their place, coughing and wheezing in a cloud of blue smoke, stood a handsome prince and an extremely beautiful princess. Both looked bewildered, and a little embarrassed.

"You two go on home," said Mr. Peters sharply. "As for you, Maybelle, I want you to meet me in my office tomorrow morning at nine sharp."

With another wave of his hand he disappeared in a cloud of white smoke.

The smell of newly mown hay lingered behind him.

"His office?" asked the prince, stepping out of the swamp. He shook a minnow from his boot.

"Up there," said Maybelle, pointing toward the sky.

"Heaven?" asked the princess, her blue eyes wide.

"You could call it that," said Maybelle. "Though at the moment it doesn't quite feel that way." She sighed, then turned her eyes from the clouds back to the swamp. "I'm terribly sorry about the frog thing. I didn't mean for it to happen that way. When Princess Igrella kissed you, Prince Arbus, you were supposed to turn back into a human. Why Princess Igrella turned into a frog instead I'll never know."

She shook her wand in disgust, then tucked it into the belt that held her skirt close to her plump waist.

Princess Igrella patted Maybelle on the shoulder. "No need to apologize. I was pretty upset at first, but when I thought about life in court versus life in the swamp ... well, somehow a lily pad began to seem a lot more comfortable than a throne. As far as I'm concerned, all that really mattered was that Prince Arbus and I could be together."

Maybelle smiled. "At least you're still both the same species. But maybe I can—"

Prince Arbus put his arm around Igrella's tiny waist. "We'll be fine, Maybelle," he said nobly. "One way or another. Please ... feel free to go on to your next case."

"But maybe I should stay and—"

"We'll be fine," repeated the prince firmly, his voice a little desperate.

"Thank you for your help."

"Oh, it was my pleasure," said Maybelle cheerfully. She glanced at the sky. "Certainly more of a pleasure than tomorrow morning is going to be."

The cloud directly above her grew dark and rumbled with thunder.

Maybelle rolled her eyes. "Such a fuss over one little mistake."

A bolt of lightning seared down beside her, charring a clump of ferns just inches from her right foot.

"All right, all right! So it wasn't a little mistake. So no one's perfect, all right? I'll see you in the morning."

Wrapping her cloak around her, she vanished in a cloud of pink smoke.

The smell of fresh baked muffins lingered behind her.

"I hope she'll be all right," whispered Princess Igrella.

"I'm sure Maybelle will be fine," said the prince. "It's her next client that I'm worried about." He shook his head. "Really, she has to be the worst fairy godmother in the entire world."

As Prince Arbus guided Princess Igrella out of the swamp, a teardrop fell from far above him, landing on his head.


Maybelle's Last Chance

The next morning Maybelle hurried across heaven, leaping from cloud to cloud, trying not to get sunshine on her feet. The angels watched in amusement. The cherubs were in a state of high hysteria.

"Late again," she muttered, missing a cloud and falling several feet before her wings could catch her. "Late again. Oh, Mr. Peters is going to be mad, mad, mad."

Maybelle was almost, but not totally, correct. Mr. Peters was not merely mad. He was furious.

"Maybelle, can't you do anything right?" he exploded, when she reached the spacious cloud where he had his office.

"Of course I can, boss."

"All right, name one thing," he replied, crossing his arms. "One single thing that you've done right in the last one hundred and fifty-three years."

Maybelle paused. She started to speak, then shook her head. She made a face. She started to speak again, then sighed. Suddenly her eyes lit up. "How about that lovely gown I wove for Princess Aurora? The one I made of cobwebs and eiderdown and stitched together with moonbeams?"

"It was beautiful," agreed Mr. Peters. "Until it started to rain and the gown dissolved—while she was wearing it!"

Maybelle hunched into herself. "So I made a little slip."

"You made a very little slip!" roared Mr. Peters. "That's why the princess was so embarrassed!" He shook his head and took a deep breath. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't lose my temper that way. I would have been promoted by now if I could break the habit. But really, Maybelle, you're the only one who does that to me. I never even raise my voice to anyone except you. What am I going to do with you?"

Before Maybelle could answer, he said, "Never mind. I'll tell you what I'm going to do. I'm going to give you another chance. Your last chance."

Maybelle gulped. "Last chance?" she asked nervously.

Mr. Peters nodded. "This is it. Either you pull this one off, or you can trade in your wings and your wand for good."

"Mr. Peters, you can't do that to me! The only thing I ever wanted to be is a fairy godmother!"

"Well, I hope you've got a second choice in mind."

"But you can't—"

"Maybelle, you've had well over a century to get this right! As far as I can tell you're no better at it now than when you started. I'm sorry, but I can't let this go on forever. I've already given you more chances than I should have. I'm starting to get complaints from upstairs." He rolled his eyes, indicating the next level of clouds above them. In a whisper he said, "I had to pull strings just to get this job for you. So to make sure nothing goes wrong, you're going to have a supervisor."

"A supervisor? Jeepers, boss—what do you think I am? An amateur?"

"Yes. Now, your supervisor will be along simply to make sure things don't get too far out of hand. This is still your job; she will step in only if you muff things. But if she does have to step in ..." He scowled and made a gesture with his hands. It looked as if he was breaking something in half. Maybelle clutched her wand. "You wouldn't!"

"Yes," said Mr. Peters. "I would."

Maybelle sighed. "Who is this supervisor?"

"Edna Prim."

"Not the Edna Prim?" cried Maybelle, her eyes growing wide.

Mr. Peters nodded.

"Fairy Godmother of the Year for the last hundred and forty-seven years running? That Edna Prim?"

"The same."

"She's my hero!"

As Maybelle spoke a tall, stern looking woman floated down to the cloud. Her dress billowed charmingly around her. "Good morning, Mr. Peters," she said. "I came as soon as I could."

"There it is!" cried Maybelle, rushing forward. "The Fairy Godmother of the Year medallion! Oh, I am so impressed."

She clutched the medallion, pulling Edna's neck forward as she did. "It's beautiful," gasped Maybelle.

"Yes, it is, isn't it?" said Edna, yanking it back. She shook herself, looking something like a tall, thin cat that has just heard a joke of which it faintly disapproved.

"You understand the assignment, Edna?" asked Mr. Peters.

Edna nodded. "It seems like a fairly simple case. I don't see how anyone could mess it up."

"You'd be surprised," said Mr. Peters darkly.

"Wait a minute," said Maybelle. "I don't understand. What is the assignment?"

"You'll see when we get there," said Mr. Peters. "In fact, if you're both ready, I think we should be leaving. Just follow me, ladies—"

With a wave of his hand, he disappeared.

Edna vanished a second later, leaving the scent of heavily starched laundry lingering in the air behind her.

"Wait for me!" cried Maybelle. Rushing forward, she leaped off the cloud and hurtled toward the earth far below.

She was halfway down before she remembered the spell for following the others.


Little Miss Perfect

Mr. Peters and Edna were waiting beside a small, tidy looking building that stood at the edge of a small, tidy looking town named Grindersnog. They were invisible to human eyes.

"For heaven's sake, Maybelle, hide yourself," snapped Mr. Peters when

Maybelle floated down beside them.

Maybelle sighed. Then she muttered a few words as she made a circle over her head with her wand. She disappeared instantly—except for her left foot, which looked very strange standing there all by itself.

"Drat!" she muttered. Reaching down, she tapped her foot with her wand. Finally the foot disappeared, too.

Edna rolled her eyes, but said nothing.

"All right," said Mr. Peters. "It's time to meet your next client, Maybelle. Let's slip inside."

Following Mr. Peters and Edna through a crack in the door, Maybelle found herself standing at the back of a school room. Standing at the front of the room was a very harried looking teacher.

About twenty children sat on hard wooden benches, working on slates. For about two minutes, everyone was very quiet. Then a boy near the front of the room took a large spider from his pocket. Maybelle giggled when she realized that the spider was made of black paper.

Using a string attached to one end, the boy dangled the spider over the shoulder of the girl in front of him.

The girl leaped to her feet. "Teacher! Teacher!" she shrieked.

The teacher sighed. "What is it, Maria?"

By now Maria had figured out that the spider was made of paper. Straightening her shoulders, she said with great dignity, "Gustav tried to scare me."

"Well, I think he succeeded," replied the teacher. "Gustav, you will stay after school today."

"Yes, Herr Bauer," replied Gustav with a sigh.

"Ah, I see," Maybelle whispered to Mr. Peters. "You want me to work with Gustav."

"No. Keep watching."

Two rows ahead of them a dark haired boy reached forward and pinched a girl who had long braids. She immediately turned and punched him in the nose. He jumped to his feet, howling with anger. But before he could hit her back, the teacher snapped, "Friedrich! Heidi! What is this all about?"

"He pinched me!" cried Heidi.

"She punched me!" whined Friedrich.

"You did it first!"

"Did not!"

"Did too!"

"Did not!"

"Enough!" bellowed Herr Bauer. "If you twins can't get along, I'll have to separate you."

"Good!" cried both of them together.

"I will also have to inform your parents of that fact," said the teacher ominously.

The twins sank into their seats, muttering unhappily.

"Ah, it's them," said Maybelle. "Well, twins really ought to be able to get along. I think I can—"

"Keep watching," said Mr. Peters.

A boy in the third row began to smile. Taking something from his pocket, he poked the shoulder of the girl in front of him. When she turned, he held up a huge earthworm and mouthed the word "Watch."

Then he popped the worm into his mouth and swallowed it.

"Teacher!" shrieked the girl. "Ludwig ate a ... a worm!"

"Me?" asked Ludwig, his face full of puzzled innocence.

"I saw you!" cried the girl.

"Do you have any evidence?" asked Ludwig.

"Of course not. You swallowed it!"

Herr Bauer had been watching this with one hand pressed to his forehead, as if he had a throbbing headache. Now he said, "All right, that's enough. Helga, calm down. Ludwig, save your lunch for recess."

"Oh, yuck!" cried Maybelle. "Are you going to give me that horrible Ludwig for a client?"

Mr. Peters shook his head.

"But Helga doesn't need—"

"It's not her, either."

"Oh, I've got it!" said Maybelle happily. "It's Herr Bauer! That makes sense. With a class like this, he needs some help."

"No, Maybelle. It's not the teacher."

"But ..."

"Keep watching."

Now a girl who had been sitting quietly in the front row stood up. She had blond hair and bright blue eyes. She was quite pretty, and her dress was so clean and perfect it looked as if it had just been made that morning.

Her posture was flawless.

Walking to the teacher's desk, she placed her slate on it as if delivering a gift from the gods. Then she stood beside the desk, something almost like a smirk on her face, as the teacher examined her work.

"Susan, this work is wonderful—as usual."

"Thank you," replied Susan. "I tried my best—as usual!"

Three of the boys began to cough.

Susan flounced back to her bench.

"That's your client," said Mr. Peters.

"Susan?" Maybelle asked in astonishment. "But why? She's already just about perfect."


"But all those other little monsters—"

"Are perfectly normal children, sometimes nice, sometimes disgusting. No, Susan is your case."

"But what's wrong with her?"

"Susan Pfenstermacher is a wonderful child. Unfortunately, she thinks she's perfect."

Maybelle's eyes went wide. "Uh-oh," she whispered.

"Precisely," said Mr. Peters.

Outside the school house a small red creature who had been peeking through the window did a little jig and chuckled with devilish glee.

"Wait till I tell the boss about this!" he cried.


Little Stinkers

The creature who had been listening at the window was an imp named Zitzel. He had been sent to spy on Maybelle, and as soon as he heard her assignment he gave a wicked little chuckle and scurried away.

Zitzel was about two feet tall. He was a hundred and seventeen years old—very young for an imp. He had red skin, tiny nubs of horns growing out of his forehead, and a long tail. A stubby pair of bat-like wings sprouted from his shoulders.

Zitzel loved mischief more than anything. On his way out of town he managed to startle three old ladies, frighten a cat, and make the glassblower sneeze at the worst possible moment. He was very pleased with himself.

When Zitzel entered the forest, he began to travel with more caution. The forest was scary—even for an imp. The trees were gnarled and twisty, with branches like the fingers of witches, and trunks that were often as big around as a house. Sometimes, late at night, he thought they moved on their own—though he was never able to catch them at it.

Zitzel had gone only a little way into the forest when he spotted a woodcutter coming toward him, carrying a bundle of sticks on his back. The little imp wasn't sure what to do. His boss had told him not to let anyone see him. But it was already too late for that.

Well, he decided. Since I've already been spotted, I might as well have some fun.

Making a horrible face, Zitzel ran straight at the woodcutter, waving his arms, rolling his eyes, and shouting, "Ackety backety backety backety!" (He made up the words on the spot, in honor of the occasion.)

The poor man dropped his load of wood and ran screaming in the other direction.

Humming contentedly, Zitzel continued toward the cave that he shared with his boss. He couldn't wait to tell Zozmagog what he had learned about Maybelle.

Zitzel's destination lay deep in the forest, in the side of a rocky hill. Though the opening was small, the cave itself was large and roomy. A clear stream ran through the cave's back section. Near the center of the cave, on a large stone, sat a glass ball the size of a large pumpkin. The ball flickered with red light. The light was dim, barely enough to let someone with good eyes make their way across the cave. But it cast eerie shadows that pleased the cave's occupants, who could see in the dark anyway.


Excerpted from The World's Worst Fairy Godmother by Bruce Coville. Copyright © 2012 Bruce Coville. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Bruce Coville is the author of nearly ninety books for young readers, including the international best-seller My Teacher Is an Alien. He has been a teacher, a toy maker, a cookware salesman, and a grave digger. In addition to his work as an author, Bruce is much in demand as a speaker and as a storyteller. He is also the founder and president of Full Cast Audio, a company dedicated to producing unabridged recordings of children's books in a full-cast format. For more information about Bruce, check out www.brucecoville.com.

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The World's Worst Fairy Godmother 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Should i buy it?
schsreader0 More than 1 year ago
This book is about a fairy godmother that isn’t very good at what she does. Her boss said that she gets one more chance and if she messes up she becomes mortal again. To make sure things don’t get too out of hand, her boss gave her a supervisor. They give her a little girl who lived in the forest to help. This little girl was a little confusing to the godmother. The little girl was perfect. The problem was she would do the right for the wrong reason. She would do nice things so people would think she was perfect. So to fix her the fairy godmother was going to make a love apple which would make the girl love every one. It turns out that the reason the godmother keep messing up was because there was a little goblin type thing that would sabotage her work. When he found out what she was going to do he made a mean apple that would make her hate everyone. If you touched her you would be mean too. So the fairy godmother put the love apple in the basket but the goblin switched it with his apple. The little girl ate it. That’s when things went downhill. All the kids in town touched her and they all became mean. Now to find out what happens you’re going have to read the book. I recommend reading this book if you’re in to fairy tales. It’s a funny story that you will want to keep reading. It’s also a good book to read to little kids
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book when I was in the 5th grade, that was six years ago. I had remembered how much I loved it, so it urged me to find the book and read it again for fun. I recommend it to any child (ages 9-12). It brings a whole new twist on the average fairy godmother, and allows the reader to travel to a whole new sparkling world full of magic and laughs.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
From what other people have written, I think that it is a great book. I met the author, Bruce Coville, and told him that I liked Homeward Bound. This sounds like an awesome book from this famous author (he goes world-wide).