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*The Fairies of Nutfolk Wood* by Barb Bentler Ullman - tweens/young readers book review


The Fairies of Nutfolk Wood
by Barb Bentler Ullman
Ages 9-12 256 pages Katherine Tegen Books June 2006 Paperback    

All children must learn to cope with change. Willa’s parents have divorced, and she and her mother relocate to Plunkit, a small country town. A rundown trailer on a lovely plot of land is the right place and price for a new start, and Willa learns that hard work can transform most anyplace into a home. The woods surrounding the trailer call to her, small voices that seem to welcome her and make her look beyond trees for the true life of the forest.

Enter Hazel Wickett, a spry old woman who lives up the road. When life demands that Willa’s mother work in town, Hazel strikes a bargain with her: she will look after Willa, and Willa will repay her by doing chores. Hazel teaches the girl that there was life before indoor plumbing and electricity and the satisfaction in living life at a slower pace. Most important, she shares tales of May Pocket, a girl who loved roaming the woods just like Willa.

According to Hazel, May found an entire town of fairies living in a tree stump in a wood just like the one surrounding Willa’s trailer. The girl dreams that night of a tiny girl in an acorn cap who tells her to be happy. Willa protests that she cannot be happy; the divorce has turned her life upside down. “Change is hard,” the girl agrees, “until change becomes the day.”

This is a beautifully written first novel. Ullman’s work is gentle and avoids snap solutions to the hard griefs that plague the lives of her characters. The Nutbone family is a welcome addition to fairy lore. Children from grades 2 to 4 will enjoy it.

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  Pamela Crossland/2006 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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