Jenny's 2010 Picks
The Night Fairy
by Laura Amy Schlitz, illus. by Angela Barrett
If your child fell in love with the idea of Peter Pan’s Tinkerbell, then this book is the one for her (or him!). Laura Amy Schlitz, the author who took us deep into a medieval village in her Newbery Medal–winning Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!, here allows us to inhabit the fascinating miniature world where fairies dwell. Every squirrel, bird or bat can pose a threat to Flory, a night fairy, “born a little before midnight when the moon was full.” In fact, it was a bat that mistook her for a luna moth and crumpled Flory’s wings. Now she must operate as a day fairy, taking cover in a wren house in the garden of a “giantess” (a human with “white braids that crisscrossed over her head”). The same traits that make Flory a spunky survivor also make her not so easy to befriend; there’s no one to teach her manners. Still, she strikes up a sort of arrangement with a squirrel named Skuggle: She helps him develop a strategy for getting seeds, and he gives her a lift every now and again. What Flory really pines for, however, is a flight on the back of a hummingbird. And opportunity strikes when one gets trapped in the web of a venomous spider. In the process of attempting a rescue, the hummingbird, spider and the bat who forced Flory into her daytime predicament, all come together in surprising ways to teach Flory the meaning of regret and forgiveness. Schlitz plants tantalizing facts about the natural world (for instance, hummingbirds go into “torpor… when they run out of strength, they slow their bodies down”), while glorious full-page watercolors illustrate Flory’s cherry blossom gowns and flights on hummingbird wings. Just right for those children ready to move beyond beginning readers, this adventure tale also makes an ideal family read-aloud.