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