Barbara MacKellar's Published Prose

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A Child’s Guide to Fairies

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The Secret Life of Fairies

Who hasn’t wondered at one time or another about the daily lives of fairies? For those of us who want to know, author Penelope Larkspur and artist Leslie Elizabeth Watts offer The Secret Life of Fairies, a delightful child’s guide to Fairyland.

Penelope begins logically with a few cautionary words on entering Fairy World. And since young readers are remarkably logical, she goes to great lengths to tell all…or most. Some questions are necessarily left unanswered, but only because “fairies like their privacy,” she explains, which is why “no one has ever seen inside a fairy bathroom”

Bathroom arcana aside, author and artist show us a typical fairy home furnished with intriguing birc-a-brac: acorn goblets, sprouting sofas, canopied beds (to protect sleep-fliers), silver spoon mirrors, mouse-hide carpets, a cozy fire of wooden matches blazing on the hearth.

We spy a fairy feast in a moonlit wood where a royal family sits atop a raised toadstool dais and dancers twirl about a bonfire in gossamer gowns to flute and harp and walnut-shell bass. We forage a field by day where tiny fairies ride on ants and wingless fairies fly on bundles of sticks by saying the magic words, “Horse and mattock.” Mostly, though, says Penelope, fairies raise white fairy horses called “rades” and fairy cows for milk, and fairy hunting dogs for catching wild mice.

We learn that fairies love fashion an avoid clothes that “pinch, rub or itch.” They prefer dew-draped spiderwebs and jaunty green-leaf hats, or snapdragon caps and bat-wing capes on rainy days. Did you know that one wool hat lost in the woods equals 20 fairy sweaters? They also love bread, butter, berries, bluebells abd bowls of milk. Penelope also reveals a recipe for fairy cake that anyone can make.

Now I can’t imagine a more perfect summer pastime than The Secret Life of Fairies, even for the timid fairy seeker. No need to venture further than your own backyard. Just follow Penelope’s tips: leave a dish of milk in the garden, and plant bluebells for feasts and pink and red flowers for hats, but don’t plant St. John’s Wort, or leave horseshoes and other iron objects laying about. And for the record, fill out the “fairy sighting” form on the very last page.

For a first-hand sighting, warns Penelope, you must be on the lookout for fairies, “especially on moonlit nights. You may hear them before you see them” she cautions. “The thrum of  a harp or the lilting melody of a flute will tell you they are nearby.” Be very quiet,” she cautions, “for fairies do not like to be watched.”

Sounds perfectly logical to me.

Celtic Curmudgeon Arts & Entertainment Review, 1999


Written by barbaramackellar

May 27, 2012 at 10:38 pm

Posted in Reviews

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