Friday, November 25, 2011

Small Persons with Wings

Mellie Turpin has loads of troubles, not the least of which is that until she was midway through kindergarten her best friend was a tiny, winged man named Fidius. Having a tiny winged friend isn’t in and of itself a problem. But when Mellie tries to bring her fairy to school, a) he abandons her and b) her classmates see her as a freakish, fairy obsessed fat kid. Not good.

After her grandfather dies and her father inherits the family inn a few towns away, it seems as though things are looking up for Mellie. Now at last she can forget about her classmates, who un-phased by bully prevention week are still chanting “fairy fat” whenever she’s in earshot. But things don’t work out quite as expected.

The greatest strengths of this novel are the well-drawn and fully realized world of the Small Persons with Wings, or Parvi Pennati, and the breakneck pace of the action. Author  Ellen Booraem keeps the plot twists coming and the fairy magic mostly plausible, unexpected, and always fun.

This would be a great book to pair with Mary Losure’s forthcoming nonfiction title The Fairy Ring, or Elsie and Frances Fool the World ( Candlewick Press, March 2012). It’s a rollicking ride of a book with enough detail about fairies and enough fairy lore to make even a non-believer want to believe.

Small quibble: I was able to easily suspend disbelief when reading about fairies in Small Persons with Wings, but had a harder time believing the school scenes. Had I been wearing the Turpin family’s moonstone ring—which allows the wearer to tell truth from illusion—I might have seen that the school scenes simply weren’t as “true” as the rest of the book.

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