Friday, November 25, 2011

Fiction Friday (4)

I figured since the whole world tends to shop on this Friday (not myself of course, I can't stand crowds), why not use that spending power for good instead of evil and buy yourself some books, or buy books for others. My books make great gifts. But of course you all know that already. So I won't talk about my books. I'll talk about other writer's books. I've always been attracted to original myths, folklore and fairy tales. My earliest writing as a teenage were often attempts at original fairy tales. Seeing as the book I'm currently working on has a elements of that, I've been attracted reading these kinds of books again. Here are two Middle Grade books I recently read that I hope you might enjoy.

The Night Fairy by Laura Amy Schlitz
(Candlewick 2010)

A quick, delightful story about a night fairy named Flory who accidentally gets a wing clipped by a sleepy bat. Understandably, Flory then HATES bats. She hates them so much, she decides to become a day fairy just to avoid them. The charm of this story is the impulsive way in which Flory seems to form her opinions. Following a more traditional fairy lore, Flory is a bit stubborn and self-centered. But the heart of the story stems from the way she is able to adapt and overcome. The plot is slight, but perfect for 7-9 year olds both in content and pacing with just the right blend of sweetness and danger. MUST LIKE FAIRIES.

Tree Girl by T.A. Barron
(Philomel 2001)

I absolutely love the concept behind Tree Girl. Part original fairy tale, part invented myth, the story borrows from various folklores to create its own world within which to exist. The setup is extremely compelling. Nine year old Anna lives in an isolated cottage by the sea with a grouchy man who supposedly rescued her from forest ghouls when she was a baby. The two live in perpetual fear of the forest that surrounds them. Day after day, the man leaves her to go fishing and Anna finds life extremely lonely. Her only friend is the old tree growing near their house. That is, until she meets a sandy haired bear cub and discovers there are more secrets to the forest than she has been led to believe.

There is some wonderful imagery in this book. T.A. Barron is exceptional at bringing this strange forest to life with the slightest of prose. The story structure is purposefully simplistic, keeping in format with the idea of a myth, however I found myself missing a more intimate connection with Anna. Her fears, desires, and longing for companionship are made clear, but I never felt them as deeply as I'd have wished. That said, I think it's still a wonderful story that 9-11 year olds of a certain type would truly love.

Sidenote: The cover illustration by Trina Schart Hyman, for this edition, is beautiful.

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