Friday, March 19, 2010

The Night Fairy by Laura Amy Schlitz

The Night Fairy by Laura Amy Schlitz
Illustrated By: Angela Barrett
Geared Towards: Ages 7-11
Published By: Candlewick Press
Publication Date: February 2010
ISBN: 978-0-7636-3674-6

Laura Amy Schlitz, acclaimed author and Newbery Medal Winner, has recently released her new illustrated fiction title, The Night Fairy. Flory, a night fairy, must learn how to survive when the tables are turned and she suddenly finds herself without a wings. A fairy without wings? Nonsense! Unfortunately though, this is not the case.

As the author explains early on, fairies do not make good parents. So it is not uncommon at all for a young fairy to be left on her own to make her way through the big, amazing, and oh so very dangerous world. This normally would not be a problem, but for Flory the trouble comes when a little brown bat mistakes her for a moth. It only takes the creature a moment to realize the error of his ways; however, even by then the damage is already done.

Flory, barely as tall as a single acorn, finds herself, a night fairy, wingless and alone. Uncertain as to what else she might do, Flory quietly locates a shelter [a giant's bird house] for herself and begins to brainstorm. To be a night fairy is to see and experience such undeniable beauty and awe. Still, without wings the dark of night is very dangerous and difficult to navigate.

It's a bittersweet day when Flory determines that despite her heritage, it is now the day that offers her the most likely rewards and benefits- such as food, safety, and survival. With that, Flory renounces her night fairy name, and begins to live as a day fairy. But even the sunlight hours are full of obstacles and dangers galore. Flory must learn to not only live as a day fairy but to survive as one as well.

Flory doesn't cater to anyone and quickly comes to the realization that someone as small as herself must learn to demand respect if she's going to get anywhere in life. And a wild temperment is just what the doctor prescribed. Bold and brazen, Flory steps out of the dark and in to the light as a day fairy. Determined to survive, she wastes no time in making the necessary demands of those creatures around her, most specifically Skuggle the squirrel.

Despite the fact that he is more than double her size, Skuggle is an easy pawn. His tiny squirrel brain thinks almost always of food. And a hungry squirrel can easily be bought and coerced into doing exactly what one wants. It's not always easy, but soon Flory has Skuggle wrapped around her little finger and is able to travel the garden as she pleases.

As she grows, Flory begins to discover she knows more and more magic. All the same, and even with a friend of size on her side, Flory must still be consciencious of her surroundings and never forget for a moment where she comes from.

The Night Fairy is compact little book, but the story it contains within its pages is anything but simple. Full of drama and adventure this is the kind of fantasy that leaves the reader envisioning a sequel. The well thought out story combined with the beautiful watercolor illustrations make this short tale almost classical in style. It won't take you long to read it, and I guarantee you it won't just be because of the size. Schlitz's storytelling ability leaves you hanging on the edge of your seat as you root for Flory and her friend(s). You don't want the story to end, but as far as this particular installment is concerned you are left feeling satisfied and content. For the author leaves no strings untied, and does a wonderful job of bringing her story full circle.

This delightful little tale of fancy is one I look forward to sharing with my own daughters. So thank you, Candlewick, for the review copy and opportunity. It's been a real pleasure!

OUR GRADE: 4 hearts

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Rose's Garden by Peter H. Reynolds

Rose's Garden by Peter H. Reynolds
Geared Towards: Ages 3 and Up
Published By: Candlewick Press
Publication Date: October 2009
ISBN: 978-0-7636-4641-7

Rose's Garden is an imaginative tale with a beautiful and inspirational sentiment. Written in dedication to Rose Fitzgerarld Kennedy herself, this story is meant to show the resplendent joy that a little hope, faith, and love can bring about.

Rose is a wee girl, traveling the world in her giant tea pot. As she travels from one exotic land to another Rose slowly fills her incredible ship with seeds to remind her of each and every place. After a time her grand tea pot is overflowing with seeds, and with no further room Rose sets her sights on a place where her amazing journey can come to a halt.

Once she finds a place to dock, Rose sets out to discover just the right spot for her glorious garden. It doesn't take long before she stumbles on to an ugly, abandoned lot just perfect for what she has in mind. Upon returning to her ship, however, Rose is dismayed to find that birds have swooped in and selfishly eaten all but a small handful of her prized seeds.

Most people would find such a thing so depressing that all hope would be lost, but Rose is not most people. Unwilling to let a trivial detail such as this get her down, she scoops up the few remaining seeds and heads back to nestle them gently in the dirt. But time and the elements seem to be against Rose. Despite everything she does, her garden just won't grow.

As word of her dream spreads, Rose suddenly discovers that she is not alone in wanting to make the world a more beautiful place around her. Children of all ages and color begin coming to her from around the community to share in her faith of a more beautiful tomorrow. Bringing with them colored paper flowers in all brilliant shades and designs, Rose's garden slowly begins to sprout forth before her eyes. It's not quite what she had initially envisioned, yet it's absolutely perfect.

This lovely little picture book tells an endearing story ripe with originality and lots of heart. It's a story that not only inspires you to take in all the beauty around you, but to go after it without holding anything back. Life's an adventure but it can be amazing if you just allow yourself to dream big and never let go of your faith.

OUR GRADE: 5 hearts