Monday, February 28, 2011

The Night Fairy, by Laura Amy Schlitz

Saying Flory the Fairy is adventurous is an understatment. Injured, losing her wings, and finding herself even more utterly alone than she was after her parental abandonment (apparently normal for fairies), she enters survival mode. She is quick-thinking and seeks shelter, clothing, and food. With spells and a dagger she fights off a squirrel, spider, racoon and praying mantis. Flory starts out so fiercely independent it prevents her from caring for others' feelings and needs, although she eventually begins to sense what true friendship entails. Throughout most of the book, she seeks companionship as she needs help - not because she wants friendship. Therein lies the interesting character development - she really exhibits the traits you'd expect in a male warrior character, an Indiana Jones type if you will: someone who carries a weapon, is resourceful, adventurous, self-serving, cunning, and not looking for attachments to tie her down. Someone who grows to love her new home so much she'd not seek to settle down with her own kind when given the opportunity (by the bat, at the end of the novel). A character who is also very much a wild female attracted to colorful and fast, handsome hummingbirds - attracted to their speed and flashiness even though they don't even notice her. Hmmmm, maybe I'm reading too much into this. Maybe I really enjoyed the beautiful prose and the illustrations, but saw that, for me, there was dischord between what the beautiful, delicately drawn artwork told me (pixies, sweetness and light, and old-fashioned softness) and what the text instinctively and subconsciously told me (this is a modern-day girl growing into an independent young woman who knows how to fight to survive). However, that IS the beauty of this book: it is a modern-day fairy tale, and will appeal to those adventurous modern girls of today. Perhaps yesterday's fairy tales appealed to the other type of girl, the "sweetness and light" and acquiescent young maiden. "The Night Fairy" was not written for those girls - it was written for today's delicate AND fiercely strong girls.

Recommended for readers 8-11. It's probably best read aloud to the younger readers.

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