a peek inside the fishbowl

28 May, 2007

A bit of a review: The Fairy Chronicles by J.H Sweet.

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Misc. life

Awhile back I was contacted by the folks behind a series of children’s books called The Fairy Chronicles by J.H Sweet. They asked if they could send me a couple of books, and if I liked them, could I write about them.

There are very few products I care to blog about. I’ve taken a pass on herbal teas and countless CDs.  But children’s books, that’s a different story. We love good kids books. Emma is a voracious reader and if we lived closer to the library we’d be there every day to refill her brain. So this request was welcome, especially when I heard it was about fairies.

What is it about fairies that is so darn attractive? It is because I believed in them when we were kids, and little crumbs of belief still remain? Why is it that I can’t look at a fungus growing out of the side of a tree and think about what a wonderful fairy shelter it would make … even today, as an adult? Or maybe it’s just me… ?

I read both books that were sent to me: “Marigold and the Feather of Hope” and “Dragonfly and the Web of Dreams.”

I really liked them. I appreciated this new spin on the fairy world. Here’s a hint: fairies live among us! In fact, one of your next-door neighbors might be a fairy and you wouldn’t even know it. If you know someone is a fairy, you can see them. If not, you can only see their “other” form, which could be a monarch butterfly, a marigold, a dragonfly or any other natural object. Sorry, that’s not quite right. Brownies (their flightless male counterparts) are seen by regular humans as mushrooms, acorns and river stones. 

But I’m getting ahead of myself. In the first book, young Beth is on her way to spending two weeks with fuddy-duddy Aunt Evelyn. She has a weird car, wears weird clothes and lives in a weirdly-coloured house. Beth would much rather lounge around the pool with her friends. But this visit is going to be a bit different. Aunt Evelyn has decided Beth is old enough to learn about her fairy spirit. You see, Beth is a marigold fairy, and her aunt is her mentor, a monarch fairy.

Aunt Evelyn teaches Beth about the fairy world, and along with a few other fairy girls, have their first adventure together.

Is this not every little girl’s dream come true? To find out she’s a fairy? Who can fly? With special fairy powers?

In Beth’s world, the fairies work with Mother Nature (who very few get to meet, after all, she might be in the form of a hurricane or a sandstorm!) to keep order and fix things if they go awry.

One thing I appreciated about this book, aside from its appealing storyline and calibre of writing, was that fact that this particular series doesn’t rely on that tiresome old kids vs. the grown-ups schtick, like so many Western books and movies for kids do. I’m really sick of the “Home Alone” storyline, which goes something like this:

1. Kids stumble on a problem that involves Bad Guys, who also happen to be grown-ups. 

2. For some reason the kids don’t have the support of other grown-ups that would normally be on their side (like parents or teachers). 

3. The kids have to troubleshoot and survive on their own against the bad guys …  who happen to also be superbly inept.

4. After a lot of anvil-dropping and other slapsticky evasive maneouvers, kids emerge victorious against the bad guys.

So much of children’s media is us follows this us v.s them storyline. Why?

In the Fairy Chronicles there are adults who don’t know about the fairy world going on around them but there are many who do, and they act as mentors who provide guidance along the way. I think this is a great message.

I do recommend this series.  Perhaps gift-wrapped with a peacock feather or pussy-willow branch attached to the top. 

I asked Emma (who just turned 8 and is at the tail end of second grade) to read one of the two books I received. She read half of “Marigold and the Feather of Hope” at bedtime, and the other half the next day. We went for a walk in the rain last night, and I asked her what she thought, and she said, and I quote: “I loooooooooved it!”

She was enchanted by the idea of how everyday objects in nature could in fact be part of the fairy world.  As we walked and talked she pointed to a robin that streaked across the road in front of us: “that could be MADAM ROBIN!”

I’m secretly afraid that she’ll never let me put our watering can in the garage, lest it be a garden gnome in disguise. Oh dear. What have I gotten myself into? ;)

4 Responses to "A bit of a review: The Fairy Chronicles by J.H Sweet."

1 | PrettyInTheCity

May 28th, 2007 at 9:19 am


Emma is a smart little girl. Cheers..^o^

2 | Mary G

May 28th, 2007 at 3:39 pm


Many thanks for the recommendation — I’ve got a little one coming into the range. And you’re not alone with the fairy thing — I loved the stories and concept as a kid and I still make fairy houses out of flowers in the summer — if there’s no one around to laugh at me.

3 | andrea

May 28th, 2007 at 6:23 pm


Mary – have you read “Kingfisher Days” by Susan Coyne? I have a feeling you might like it. :)

4 | DaniGirl

May 29th, 2007 at 9:55 am


Oh how funny – I was also contacted for these books, and have been thinking about you and your girls as I read them!! My review is forthcoming… one of these days.

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human offspring: Emma (23) and Sarah (21). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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