The Children's Book Compass

Archive for July 2010

The Night Fairy by Laura Amy Schlitz.  Illus. by Angela Barrett.  (2010).  117 pages.  Candlewick Press.  Grades K-5.  Novel/Fantasy.

The Dollhouse Fairy by Jane Ray.  (2010).  Pages not numbered.  Candlewick Press.  Grades PK-3.  Picture Book/Fantasy.

When I was a small child, stories about fairies were my favorite.  A family friend told me about the “little people” and every time I visited her, I would hear a new story.  Children will be delighted with these two new tales about fairies.

Schlitz is a master storyteller.  Her book, Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village, won the Newbery Award.  In this book, The Night Fairy, she weaves a magical story about Flory, a young fairy.

In the first pages of Flory’s saga, when she is less than three months old, she suffers a disaster – “A little brown bat swooped down upon her, and crunched up her wings.”  Without her wings Flory is in a dangerous situation.  She tumbles into the garden of a giantess, pictured as an elderly woman.  There she finds refuge in a small bird house.  As Flory learns to survive without her wings, she makes a decision to be a “day fairy.”  Flory turns out to be an industrious and brave fairy as she learns how to care for herself.  Her magic grows as she works to get food, clothe herself and make a home.  Along the way she earns the friendship of a squirrel, a hummingbird and the bat that harmed her.  Schlitz creates memorable characters with their own back stories.

Eleven softly colored illustrations in the ten chapters provide perspective on Flory’s size in relation to the plants and animals in the garden.  Barrett’s last double page illustrations capture Flory’s joy as she rides on a hummingbird.  Read this one aloud, but it may be captured before you finish it for a child’s independent reading.

Ray’s The Dollhouse Fairy make a lovely companion to Flory’s story.  Rosy’s favorite thing to do is play with her dollhouse, “making up games and stories for the dolls that lived there.”  The dollhouse was her favorite thing because her Dad built it for her.  Every Saturday morning Rosy and her Dad would make special things for it.  When Dad has to go to the hospital for a few days, Rosy takes comfort in playing with her dollhouse.

But everything changes there too.  A fairy is asleep in the bed.  The fairy, just like Flory has injured her wing.  Her name is Thistle and she tells Rosy that she is going to stay for a few nights.  ”I’m hungry,” Thistle said, “but the food in this house is just pretend.  What’s for breakfast?”  Rosy gathers what she thinks is a perfect fairy breakfast, but Thistle wants potato chips.  Thistle isn’t like the sweet fairies Rosy has learned about in storybooks.  “She was funny and noisy and full of mischief.”  Rosy loves her and wants to care for the little fairy.  They play secretly together in Rosy’s room and Rosy helps Thistle practice flying again as her wings heal.  When Dad recovers and comes home, Rosy tells him all about Thistle.  But when he goes to meet her, she is nowhere to be seen.  Children will love noticing her flying away outside the window.  The satisfying conclusion brings the story to a comforting ending.

The brightly colored, large, detailed illustrations using mixed media compliment and expand the text.  Thistle is pictured garbed in leaves and blossom petals.  Ray captures in minute details the dollhouse furnishing and chaos Thistle creates with her antics.  The use of mixed media contributes texture and patterns to the illustrations.  Children will want to pour over the illustrations and note each enchanting detail.  This is a book to savor with many read aloud sessions.

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Pointing the Direction to New Books for Children and Teens

Marilyn Carpenter, PhD.

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