Monday, April 5, 2010

Not a Classic -- Yet: The Night Fairy

The Night Fairy, by Laura Amy Schlitz, is one of those books that reach out and grab hold of you. Not in a flip, Percy Jackson sort of way, or a hell-for-leather Maximum Ride sort of way, but in a quietly intense way that draws you into the character's life.

Flory is a night fairy -- she wakes at night, eats and plays at night, even has a silver shadow so she can blend into the moonlight. She has beautiful wings like a luna moth, and one night the unthinkable happens: a bat seizes her by the wings and in an instant, her ability to fly is gone.

Wingless, she falls into a garden where she must now fend for herself without the one ability that makes it possible for one so tiny to get around quickly and safely. Even her magic can't help her much -- she is only a very young fairy and fairies grow into their magic, their spells welling up when they're old enough and need them.

Her life now fraught with danger, she decides to abandon the night and become a day fairy. It will be safer in the daytime, she reasons. There will be fewer predators on the hunt for a tiny fairy to eat, and there will be no bats. Flory decides that she will hate bats forever. She meets a squirrel named Skuggle, who she manipulates with a combination of food and pain -- for Flory is not a compassionate fairy and any way, she knows full well that Skuggle would eat her if he could.

Her struggles to survive and her journey to compassion and responsibility and forgiveness are beautifully complimented by Angela Barrett's exquisite paintings. These give the reader a sense of Flory's tininess, but also convey her spirit and determination. Their contribution to the magic of the story is considerable.

This story is compact, no more than 130 pages, but richly written. It's got an emotional quality to it, and a genuine conflict that Flory must resolve, both in her world and inside herself. If you've exhausted the Tinkerbelle genre, this is an excellent step up -- not so much in difficulty, but in content. Flory's world is real, it's dangerous and scary, and her struggles and decisions have so much more meaning, particularly the struggle to be selfless and the even more difficult struggle to forgive.

Equally excellent as a read-aloud or an independent read, this book deserves to be a classic.

Pictures courtesy of and

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