Illustrated by Angela Barrett
For: Kids of all ages
This one's a five
Endpapers: Sparkly, metallicy dark blue...mmmmhhhhmmmm.
Laura Amy Schlitz wrote the wonderful, Newbury Award-winning book Good Masters, Sweet Ladies! so I was thrilled to see her new book...so thrilled that I didn't want to wait until the library FINALLY got it (in about six months, probably). So I splurged. I read it aloud to one of my fourth grade classes. No matter how antsy they were (it was the very end of the day), they settled down immediately to listen. Boys and girls alike, they were all entranced by this feistly fairy.
Flory is a night fairy. Shortly after her birth, when she is off on her own, a bat, thinking she's a bug, nips at her so that she loses her wings. Just learning her magic skills and now, wingless, she has to figure out how to survive. She lands in an elderly lady's backyard. This "giant" tends lovingly to her garden, feeds the birds, and has lovely plantings of all sorts. So Flory makes her new home in a birdhouse. She cleverly furnishes it, makes begrudging friends with an always-hungry squirrel so she can have occasional transportation, and builds a new life for herself in this backyard. The story takes a bit of a turn when Flory discovers a hummingbird trapped in the sticky web of a spider.
Flory is not a sweet fairy. She uses her wiles to survive. But her true depth emerges as the story travels quickly along. This book made a great read-aloud. The kids enjoyed it greatly. The writing is exquisite. I'm not a big FAIRY person, to say the least, but I could read this over and over just for the gorgeous writing.
"She soon found that her body did not like the day. Her skin liked to be cool and moist, not hot and dry. When the shadows fell, her whole body itched with alertness, and she found it hard to sleep. Sunshine made her eyes water, which made her irritable, but Flory could not help herself. She missed her wings, and she had to make a whole new life for herself, with no one to show her how."
Oh, I must not forget the illustrations. Every ten or fifteen pages there's a full-page color, finely crafted illustration. Some are a little dark, but the kids were fascinated with the detail. Each chapter title is also illustrated with a blue and black silhouette that created much discussion and predictions. A perfect little book.
Thanks, Laura Amy Schlitz. I can't wait to see what you come up with next!