I Was a Teenage Fairy. By Francesca Lia Block. (1998). ISBN-10: 0064408620.

Plot Summary

Barbie Marks (Markowitz,) is a teenage model, but she’d much rather be a photographer. She lives in Los Angeles with her ex-beauty-queen mother, who continues to force her out on modeling jobs. When Barbie was very young, a Mab appeared. Mab is Barbie’s bad-talking best friend, a fuschia-haired pixie who fits in Barbie’s purse. Through Mab, Barbie finds the strength to stand up for herself, face her real-life demons, and find the love that she deserves.

Critical Evaluation

Block weaves her magic from the first sentence of the book, which says so much about Los Angeles and the pressure put on young girls to be Barbie-like models.

“”If Los Angeles is a woman-reclining bill-board model with collagen-puffed lips and silicone inflated breasts, a woman in a magenta convertible with heart-shaped sunglasses and cotton-candy hair, if Los Angeles is this woman, then the San Fernando Valley is her teeny-bopper sister.””

Francesca’s prose is as magical as Mab, and perhaps as life-changing for young writers of poetry. Barbie’s story is hyper-real, and while there are dark parts of her story, it is one that is told with hope and with love.

Reader’s Annotation

Barbie Marks has always done what her mother wanted her to do: to model, no matter what. So Mab, a sassy fairy, visits Barbie to help her through.
About the Author

Francesca Lia Block has received the Margaret A. Edwards award for her contribution to young adult literature. Weetzie Bat was her “charmed” novel, written while she was in college at US Berkeley, yearning for Los Angeles, which Block has dubbed, “Shangri-LA.” A common theme throughout her novels is that love is a saving grace, or transformative power. Block’s work never shies away from controversy, and always utilizes magical realism. Her influences include Gabriel Garciz Marquez and the poet Hilda Doolittle.
She lives in Los Angeles with her two children.



Curriculum Ties


Booktalking Ideas

-Child modeling and pageantry

-Poetic prose

-Is Mab real?

Reading Level/Interest Age

Ages 14-17

Challenge Issues

This title includes teenagers engaging in sex, and characters dealing with child molestation, though this is not graphically depicted. One of the main characters is Griffin, who is gay.

This book has been challenged in two different states for the reasons stated above: the sex, and the depiction of a homosexual teen searching for love.

Complaining that there is sex and a gay teen in this novel is like complaining that these things exist in the world. Furthermore, many gay teens are currently in difficult situations, some resorting to suicide. Banning these books sends the message that they are unwanted in society.

Retrieved from December 11th, 2010 from http://www.abffe.com/bbw-booklist-detailed.htm
Why Did You Include This Book?

Best Books: 

Books for You: An Annotated Booklist for Senior High, Fourteenth Edition, 2001 ; National Council of Teachers of English; United States
Eureka! California in Children’s Literature, 2003 ; Book Wholesalers, Inc.; United States
Los Angeles’ 100 Best Books, 1998 ; IRA Children’s Literature and Reading SIG and the Los Angeles Unified School District; United States
Middle And Junior High School Library Catalog, Eighth Edition, 2000 ; H.W. Wilson; United States
Publishers Weekly Book Review Stars, September 1998 ; Cahners; United States
Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, 1999 ; American Library Association-YALSA; United States
School Library Journal Book Review Stars, December 1998 ; Cahners; United States
Senior High School Library Catalog, Sixteenth Edition, 2002 ; H.W. Wilson; United States
Senior High School Library Catalog, Supplement to the Fifteenth Edition, 1999 ; H.W. Wilson; United States

About thesuperlibrarian

High School Librarian and obsessive reader! On a mission to read as many SUPER YA books as possible!
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