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Young readers book reviews for ages 8 to 12 years old

*The Book of Fairies* by Michael Hague - young readers book review



The Book of Fairies
by Michael Hague
Ages 9-12 128 pages HarperCollins October 2000 Hardcover    

The classic anthology The Book of Fairies is certain to entertain readers from the age of seven through to adult (depending how young at heart the reader is) with its nine stories and poems - "Thumbelina" may be the most recognizable of these.

Classical-style art accompanies the fantasy folklore stories and poems perfectly. Alive with activity and fairy-tale creatures everywhere you look, the images are detailed right down to buildings and faces in the trees and dancing mushrooms. Identifiable vegetation including foxglove, shepherd’s purse, tulips, narcissus and various kinds of fungus is so dense that it almost overwhelms the senses. Beautiful lifelike stills of woodland birds, such as the one located on page 15, were some of my favorite scenes. My second favorite image was the one depicting reading as the gateway for the mind to adventure and fantasy lands. Illustrations from colorful two-page spreads to small black-and-white pencil sketches can be found on nearly every page.

Fantasy creatures from around the globe, including Flower Spirits and Flower Babies, Fairies and Elf-Fairies, Mermaids and even a Witch, will delight readers. Goblins with tempting fruits, mischievous Elves, and dependable Scottish Brownies will take readers on wonderful adventures. Delightful characters from talking insects and amphibians to humans with fairy gifts and plenty of royalty figures add just the right seasoning to create a feast for fairy-tale lovers.

The author’s notes in the back of the book made me want to revisit the tales and experience them in a new way. Here, Hague reveals insider knowledge about the authors and the historical background of each piece, including the origin of fairy-tales and the changes this genre underwent between the 1600s and 1800s. I found it very interesting that fairy-tales originated as adult entertainment before evolving into children’s stories. I was amazed how old these familiar tales are. “Thumbelina” goes way back to 1835, but older still is the story “Fairer-than-a-Fairy,” which was written in the 1600s by a wealthy Frenchwoman who wanted to entertain her friends with it. Because of this, older terms like “fulling” are explained at the end of the book.

Hidden morals let these tales go far beyond falling in love and living happily ever after. They reiterate the importance and benefits of having strong friendships. Readers are taught to judge others by their actions and their hearts, rather than by their looks or position. Simpler morals, such as treating each other nicely and being careful what we wish for, are also implied. The overall message that The Book of Fairies leaves the reader with is that we are meant to go through struggles and face those challenges with honor before we can expect to find happiness.

The anthology is illustrated by Michael Hague, who also created the cover art and personally selected the poems and stories. Hague has created three other similar books on the themes of dragons, fairies and pirates. The author resides in Colorado with his family. He and his wife have worked together on several best-selling children’s books; Michael’s work has actually appeared in more than a dozen books. His art has reached well beyond this medium to calendars, posters, greeting cards, and more.

Truly, I felt my eyes light up and the child in me excite from the moment I began this book review project. The Book of Fairies deserves high ratings for the art alone; however, the stories easily earn that rating on their own as well.
Young readers book reviews for ages 8 to 12 years old

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  Lillian Brummet/2006 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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