"Down by the spring one morning/ Where the shadows still lay deep,/ I found in the heart of the flower/ A tiny fairy asleep," rhymes Laura Ingalls Wilder in "The Fairy Dew Drop." Wilder, best known for the Little House
series that chronicles her childhood as a pioneer girl, wrote poetry, too, and--surprise!--this practical, hard-working woman also believed in fairies. Her fairy poems, first published in a San Francisco newspaper, have now been collected in this small, colorful volume, brimming with Richard Hull's whimsical paintings
of various kinds of fairies and their fanciful world of flowers and insects. The book begins with an introduction by Stephen W. Hines, who edited Wilder's long-forgotten newspaper columns in Little House in the Ozarks
. Wilder fans will also find one of her 1916 essays, "Fairies Still Appear to Those with Seeing Eyes." A charming choice for both fans of fairies and admirers of the Little House
books. (Click to see a sample spread
. Illustrations ©1998 by Richard Hull. Permission by Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc.) (Age 6 to adult) --Marcie Bovetz
From Publishers Weekly
Little House fans will undoubtedly snap up this small-trim collection of Wilder's early, dewy poems about fairies, but, like Louisa May Alcott's Flowers Fables (reviewed below), they are definitely not her best work. The front matter is the choicest part: a striking portrait of the author, a short biographical sketch describing her forays into newspaper publication (a San Francisco paper published these poems in 1915), and an adaptation of a 1916 essay encouraging children to believe in the "Little People." (Wilder's plea includes the story of "the infidel who asserted that he would not believe anything that he could not see." The man, according to Wilder, was smartly answered by a Quaker: "Friend! Does thee believe thee has any brains?") The five poems that follow, however, are as coy as Victorian valentines. Hull (The Alphabet from Z to A [With Much Confusion Along the Way]) skillfully wends his precarious way through the predictable assortment of rainbows, petals and sparkling dew. The illustrations, of such subjects as fairies who "paint flower faces" and dab speckles on tiger lilies and random babies, luxuriantly combine slightly surrealistic greenery and arresting details. The paintings teem with winged creatures, acorn-skirted fairies sporting Punch and Judy faces and enough overgrown flowers for a Burpee's seed catalogue. Hull's quirky and animated art provides a tart accompaniment to Wilder's sugary vision of fairies who dance with sunbeams, "tuck their toes in cloudlets" and turn into a "rainbow in the sky!" All ages.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.