Wood, M. (2008). How I Found the Perfect Dress. New York: Berkley Jam.
Appetizer: It's winter and several months after Morgan's bike trip across Ireland (See Why I Let My Hair Grow Out for that particular adventure). She and Colin still email one another, but Colin's notes are arriving less and less often. That is of course, until an email reporting that he'll be visiting Morgan in a few weeks arrives. But his arrival is not exactly the ideal reunion, because Colin spends each night being whisked away to dance at fairy balls against his will. Morgan must find a way to save Colin from his perpetual exhaustion. But to do that, she'll have to figure out if leprechauns and gnomes really exist and find a date and a dress for the junior prom.
I found that I really liked Morgan's voice as she narrated. It is consistent with Why I Let My Hair Grow Out, but for some reason, I found her to be funnier in this novel. While I was amused with the first book, this one actually made me chuckle a few times.
While present in the first book, How I Found the Perfect Dress explores the way femininity is presented more extensively. Morgan is still dealing with the fact that she is part goddess. Her little sister is obsessed with Disney princesses. Her best friend is a witch--excuse me--a 'wich basketball player. Plus, a less than happy Morgan finds herself dressed as a princess with glass slippers and all.
This book also reflects the current economic climate. Morgan's father has been laid off from his job at a bank and isn't having any luck in finding a new job.
I enjoyed How I Found the Perfect Dress. I still find that I have an unanswered question or two. For starters, how exactly is Morgan the daughter of a Fairy Queen when her supposed father is dead centuries ago and she has two mortal parents? I don't get it. Perhaps the answer will be in the third book in Morgan's series, What I Wore to Save the World (to be reviewed in the not so distant future).
"Tinker bell pajamas!" My sister Tammy was the happiest girl in the world. "Look, Morgan! Look what Santa brung me!"
"That's 'brought,' Tammy. Look what Santa brought me."
Even on four hours' sleep, my mom could hear bad grammar coming a mile away. It was Christmas morning, six a.m. Mom was catatonic on the sofa in her bathrobe, dark circles under her eyes, mumbling about verbs. I was in a similarly groggy condition, except I was on the floor and couldn't care less about verbs. My dad was in the kitchen, making coffee with the desperation of a bomb-squad guy dismantling a detonator that was already ticking: five-four-three-two-
"Snow White!" Tammy shrieked" (p. 1).
"True. I loved Lamb Chop as a kid.
"Exactly!" Mom would not be stopped. "Lamb Chop was age-appropriate. It wasn't a show about a giggly princess whose goal in life is to twirl around in a flowy pink dress, waiting for some muscle-bound princes to show up."
No, I though, it was a show about a middle-aged woman who kept a sock on her hand for company" (p. 6).
"Was this a good time to tell the junior prom planning committee that I was part goddess? How might that news go over? I helped myself to a Cheez Doodle.
Cheez Doodle, Snack of the Goddess. That idea made me crack up. Sarah must've thought I was have a breakdown" (p. 12-13).
"The way Dad explained it to me, the whole original purpose of driver's ed was to make new drivers safer. Then someone figured out that the way to make new drivers safer is to make them older, since eighteen year olds have far fewer accidents than sixteen and seventeen year olds. So the school canceled the classes in the hopes that sixteen and seventeen year olds would continue to take the bus and nag their parents for rides until senior year, at least.
Follow the logic, if you dare: There's no driver's ed in my high school anymore, because the whole original purpose of driver's ed can best be achieved by not having it. Proof that logic does not always make sense" (p. 23).
To Go with the Meal:
This is a humorous and (more than a little) absurd novel can be a fun recommendation, especially for teens that can relate to having a long distance relationship, running into a dreaded ex, listening to their parents fighting or being described as a princess or half-goddess (happened to me aaaaaaaall the time! Truth.).
In terms of discussion of themes, a teacher could focus on the way logic, subversiveness and femininity are presented.
Tasty Rating: !!!!