________________ CM . . . . Volume XXII Number 5. . . .October 2, 2015


Bad Hair Day. (Whatever After).

Sarah Mlynowski.
New York, NY: Scholastic (Distributed in Canada by Scholastic Canada), 2014/2015.
165 pp., trade pbk., $6.99.
ISBN 978-0-545-62729-0.

Grades 3-6 / Ages 8-11.

Review by Ruth McMahon.

**˝ /4



A loud sob escapes Rapunzel’s lips. “What happened to my hair? It was so pretty!”

It really was pretty. And now it’s not. Now it looks like cheese that’s been grated to make a pizza.

“Jonah!” I snap. “You DO realize that this is your fault, don’t you?”

He blushes. “Mine? Why?”

“Your soccer cleats! You wore them while you climbed her hair!”

“He did this to me?” Rapunzel asks, wimpering.

Jonahs’s face is now the color of a very ripe tomato. “I’m s-sorry!” he stammers. “I didn’t realize...”

“You didn’t realize that your cleats would rip apart her hair?” I yell. “Mom said you couldn’t even wear them in the house!”

“That’s because she doesn’t want me to ruin the shoes! Not because of the floors.” He kicks up his toes. “These aren’t even metal. They’re just plastic!”

“Well the plastic pulled on the strands,” I say.

Rapunzel looks like she’s desperately trying to blink back tears. “My hair was the only thing I had that was special,” she murmurs.


Bad Hair Day is another installment in the “Whatever After” series by Sarah Mlynowski. Once again, siblings Abby and Jonah embark on a midnight adventure through the mirror in their family’s basement. These adventures take them into the plots of fairy tales where their presence results in a plot altered from the traditional, leading to a series of misadventures.

     No doubt, as one has gathered from the title, when Jonah and Abby (and their dog Prince who returned with them from a previous adventure) head through the mirror, they end up in the Rapunzel story. Just before the selected excerpt (above), they scaled the tower in the “conventional” manner by climbing up Rapunzel’s hair. Jonah makes a mess of the hair by climbing with his new cleats on his feet. In an attempt to undo the damage, Abby cuts Rapunzel’s hair. As one can predict, this act only makes matters worse, leaving them without a method of descending from the tower. Prince, the dog, finds a trap door which allows them to descend a staircase and exit the tower.

     From here the plot takes many twists and turns: going to the castle, trying to find Rapunzel’s biological parents, making sure Rapunzel and the Prince (Tristan, the human, not the dog) fall in love, and ultimately seeing Abby and Jonah safely home.

     As in Dream On (“Whatever After” #4), the book is plot driven, and the characters show up as needed to keep the story moving. The snappy, contemporary dialogue will also keep readers engaged. As this is the second book I have reviewed in this series, the main characters, Abby and Jonah, start to have a bit more depth. A nice feature in Bad Hair Day is the recurring joke about Abby’s failed attempt at retaining her champion status in her classroom’s spelling bee. This helps tie together the plot as it bounces along.

     I felt Bad Hair Day was a better offering than Dream On. Still, this is not great literature. Nevertheless, the author respects her audience, presupposing that readers have a pre-existing knowledge of the fairytale, thereby allowing them to catch the humour. As I noted with Dream On, “Whatever After” is a great series for developing readers looking to practice their skills. Bad Hair Day will likely not appeal to boys, but, for young female readers, it is another fun romp through fairytale land.


Ruth McMahon, is a professional librarian working in a middle school library in Alberta and has two teenaged daughters.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
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The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.

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