by Laura Amy Schlitz
illustrated by Angela Barrett
review copy provided by the publisher
I wish I could send this book back to my 9 year-old self. I would have loved everything about it -- its small size, its thick pages, the shimmery end papers, the illustrations, the dedication to ME!!! ("This one is for Mary Lee..."). I would have set aside THE BORROWERS (after all, I would have been in my 10th or 12th reading of it) and made a space in my imagination for fairies. Flory, the spunky, prideful, demanding, brave night fairy whose wings are accidentally (we find out later) crunched by a brown bat, would have become one of my Favorite Characters Of All Time.
The garden in this book would have been as exotic to me as a night fairy who learns to survive without wings. I grew up in a small town in a very dry region out west, and although we had trees and green grass in town, I never experienced lushness until I was an exchange student to Germany in high school. There were only a few squirrels in our town at that time (living in the big old elms near the elementary school in the center of town) and I had never seen a hummingbird like the one Flory so wants to ride, nor a preying mantis like the one she fends off with a big thorn.
I smile to think about my young self reading this book, because I envision my old self as the old woman who tends the garden. I'm pretty sure young me couldn't have imagined growing up to become that old woman! My garden isn't as big as the one in this book, but it's got the squirrels, the flowering tree, the bird feeder, hummingbirds that visit, if not nest, and occasionally a preying mantis. And I like to think there's a spot out there where a night fairy could survive until her wings grew back.