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Item - Fairy House

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Series: Choose Your Own Adventure - Dragonlarks — no. 31
Author: Preller, James
Illustrator: Grock, Norm
Date: June 20, 2022
ISBN: 1954232055 / 9781954232051
KenJenningsJeopardy74's Thoughts:

A few somewhat famous authors have done Choose Your Own Adventure books—Ellen Kushner, Stephanie Spinner, Ann Hodgman, Ben M. Baglio, and Bart King, to name a few—but James Preller is as famous in kid lit as any of those. Creator of the Jigsaw Jones junior mysteries and a few YA novels, Preller’s name brings respect to Fairy House before the reader turns page one. You don’t have an exciting family life: both your parents work in home offices most of the time, so you decide one day to indulge your appetite for adventure by building a fairy house. You take care to use premium materials, and are amazed the next morning to find a tiny man with wings and wild blue hair in the house you built. His name is Bert the Below Average (aka Bert Jansen), and he is here to bring magic into your life. But how will you react when your cat Midnight attacks him?

Bert may grant you a special wish if you rescue him, but be cautious how you spend it. You could wish for him to bring your stuffed bunny, Old Mister Ears, to life and send the two of you on vacation to the moon; you could go on an ocean cruise with Old Mister Ears, or have other stuffed animals brought to life to have fun with you. Just be careful not to offend Bert or cause his fairy superiors to have to come confiscate him, or your fun will end on a sour note. Bert isn’t the most reliable wish caster, but placing faith in him is better than doubting. With the best intentions he may shrink you to the size of an insect, but watch out for an aggressive spider that can bring your adventure to an unsettling end. You’ll likely never get another day with a fairy, but you’d rather this one not end with you seriously harmed.

Maybe after saving Bert from Midnight, he’ll turn an automobile into an ice cream truck as your reward, but be warned: his magic often goes wrong in unpredictable ways. If you become irritated and anger Bert, he’s capable of turning you into a creature you’d rather not be. Better to pledge your sincere assistance to helping him learn proper use of his magic. You’ll have to be patient, but do your best, for if Bert disappears forever, you’ll be back to your old humdrum life. Treat him kindly and you might ride a unicorn through a fantastical candy land, or experience other surprising pleasures. If you’re earnest and helpful, you likely will come to the end of your story happy.

Norm Grock creates some fabulous background art for this book, but the story falls short on many counts. Internal consistency is sketchy, and aside from one or two endings with a hint of emotional connection, most are only about getting things or experiences you want. I wish you developed a deeper friendship with Bert to allow more reader investment in keeping the relationship intact, but little of that occurs. The most satisfying relationship is with Old Mister Ears, and it’s fleeting. I didn't dislike Fairy House, but as the offspring of James Preller’s imagination, I hoped for a more transcendent gamebook.

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