Chapter One


Last June, my parents jumped off a roof because of a pinky ring.

Beware of jewelry, especially if it’s more than a thousand years old. And definitely beware of your own brain. Imagination is part of life, but also it sucks.

I’m not actually allowed to say “sucks.”

Fidius had imagination. Every bedtime until I was almost six, he curled up on my pillow in his tattered jacket and knee breeches, not too close because touching him could give a person frostbite. Three inches tall, barefoot, and scraggle-haired, he told me about his elegant youth: the beautiful clothes, how everyone insulted each other, what they ate, how popular he was. I dreamed of (a) cockroach fricassee, (b) minuets, (c) winged ladies dressed up like Cinderella.

If you organize your thoughts and assign numbers and/or letters to them, they stop being imagination and turn into scientific inquiry, which is safer.

Fidius lived with us in our Boston apartment, which was the size of a French king’s closet. One day when I was five, I sat in the tiny kitchen with my Winnie-the-Pooh plate empty except for summer squash, all soft and slimy. “You’ll sit there until you eat it,” my mother said, in Model Mom mode. She left the kitchen so my father could do the dishes like a Model Dad.

Excerpt © 2011 Ellen Booraem

About the book:

Thirteen-year-old Mellie Turpin once declared to her kindergarten class that she had a fairy living in her bedroom. But before she could bring him in for show-and-tell, he disappeared. Years later, she is still trying to live it down, taunted mercilessly by classmates who call her “Fairy Fat.”

Her imagination got her into this. She’s determined to turn it off.

When her parents inherit an inn and the family moves to a new town, Mellie sees a chance to finally leave all that fairy nonsense behind. Little does she know that the inn is overrun with…you guessed it.  Oh brother.

There’s no such thing as fairies, she keeps telling herself. And if there were, they wouldn’t hurt a fly.


Ages 10 and older.

What people are saying:

“…Booraem’s debut, The Unnameables (2008), presented readers with an utterly original American fantasy, and this follow-up, though unrelated except in its examination of creativity, is equally fresh and distinctive. Frequently hysterical dialogue, a hugely sympathetic protagonist and a baroque concatenation of magics and counter-magics will keep readers glued to this smart, earthy and thoughtful tale.” —Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)

“In a fairy story that’s wistful, humorous, and clever, Booraem (The Unnameables) suggests that the real world–with its disappointments and failings–is still better than living with illusions…” —Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)

“…A great choice for all who favor funny and intelligent fantasies with quirky characters and an unpredictable, fast-moving plot.” —School Library Journal (Starred Review)

Released: January 20, 2011 by Penguin/Dial Books for Young Readers

About the author:

A former reporter and editor for rural weeklies, Ellen Booraem lives in Brooklin, Maine. She is the author of THE UNNAMEABLES (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2008), which was an ALA Best Book for Young Adults and a Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year. Visit her online at