Monday, May 28, 2007

The Fairy Chronicles

by J.H. Sweet
May 2007
Review copy compliments of the publisher

In the first book of the Fairy Chronicles, Beth’s dreaded visit to Aunt Evelyn’s takes a turn for the better when Beth learns she is a fairy. Marigold Fairy, to be exact.

The minute we got news of this book, I knew which of my fifth graders would be the first reader. I’ve seen her with other fairy books, and she took a spell book out to recess for weeks on end last fall. All of the characters in her writing have magical mystical powers and they go on epic quests.

Little did I know just how into fairies she is. She has read all of the Disney Fairies books, and owns several. She can recite the names, talents and adventures of all the Disney fairies. So it’s an understatement to say that she brought some background knowledge to her reading!

She was practically giddy with excitement when I showed her the book and asked her to read it in one night, if possible. (She managed in two.) She found one way that the Fairy Chronicles fairies differ from the Disney fairies: the fairies in the Fairy Chronicles are humans who can change back and forth from their fairy selves, while the Disney fairies are static fairies. Some of the fairies in both series have similar talents. There are Fairy Circles in both books, and the Fairy Chronicles has a handy fairy profile page which I missed, but she accessed several times when talking about the book to get the details right. She made a connection to GOSSAMER by Lois Lowry, and she was surprised and pleased to find the Tooth Fairy in the Fairy Chronicles.

Both of us were delighted by the Fairy Handbooks that automatically adjust the explanations and instructions so they are just right for that particular fairy and that particular age. (Magically leveled books! Hmm….) A Fairy starts with the First Fairy Handbook, moves to the Fortunate Fairy Handbook (for Fairies who are 10-12 years old and accident-prone), then the Formidable Fairy Handbook, and last of all, the Final Fairy Hand book.

What pleased my student most, however, was when I told her that she could read book two before me, and she could read it at whatever pace she chose, since she had read the first one so quickly to be able to give me her feedback!

Franki and her students loved it. She has lots of fairy readers in her class and they have a whole system of who gets the books next. Her students thought the illustrations were a bit like Spiderwick’s but in color. For Franki, it was like Bewitched—there could be a magical person living by her or...she could be a fairy and didn’t know it yet.

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