About the Author
Ever since she was a little girl, Tara Larsen Chang has been captivated by intricate illustrations in fairy tales and children's books. Since earning her BFA in Illustration from Brigham Young University, her illustrations have appeared in numerous children's books and magazines. When she is not drawing and painting in her studio, she can be found working in her gardens to make sure that there are plenty of havens for visiting fairies.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Two days after Christmas, the weather had finally turned cold. It wasn't at all odd to be seventy degrees in December in South Texas, but days in the forties were welcomed by those who liked cooler Christmastimes.
This Christmas vacation had been the best ever for Hope Valdez. Just before Christmas, she had gone on an exciting adventure with several of her friends that had included meeting a gremlin, a dwarf, a gargoyle, and a magical spirit known as the Wishmaker.
It might seem strange for ordinary young girls to have contact with magical creatures, but Hope and her friends were also fairies. And the job of fairies was to protect nature and fix problems, mainly problems caused by other magical creatures. So Hope and her fellow fairies stayed very busy year round.
Fairy activities had to be kept secret from non-magical people because many of them did not believe in fairies, and those who did would not likely be able to understand the need for young girls to be off on dangerous fairy missions sometimes.
Regular people could not even recognize fairies when they saw them. To non-magical people, fairies only appeared to look like their fairy spirits such as flowers, tiny sea creatures, butterflies, tree blossoms, berries, fireflies, small animals, birds, and the like. Being seen was only tricky when people happened to spot fairies at a time of year when certain flowers or insects were out of season.
Hope was a luna moth fairy. In the standard fairy form of six inches, Luna had large, pale green, glowing wings; and she wore a misty green, velvety dress with slippers to match. Her wings had a soft pink edge, a long curving tail, and enormous luminous eyespots. Luna also had straight dark hair that came to just below her shoulders. In the belt of her dress, she carried a small pouch of pixie dust, the fairy handbook, and her wand.
Luna's wand was a single thorn from a prickly pear cactus. It was long, sharp like a needle, and gleaming white. But there was something extremely significant about the thorn: Luna never used it and never needed to. She was the only fairy in existence who did not need a wand to perform magic. She still carried her wand, out of sentiment, but the cactus thorn was in a perpetual state of rest.
Each fairy was given a unique gift that was kind of like a specialty. Like all butterfly and moth fairies, Luna had strength and endurance as gifts. She also had extremely keen eyesight. Not only was she able to see things at great distances; but also, she was able to see things clearly for what they really were. She was not easily deceived by appearances, since things were not always as they seemed to be.
Madam Finch was Luna's mentor. Mentors were usually older fairies who supervised the younger ones. Luna had learned she was a fairy at age eight. When it was discovered that she did not need a wand to perform fairy magic, Madam Finch discussed the issue with Madam Toad, the leader of the fairies for the Southwest region. They agreed that Luna was probably one of the most powerful fairies ever created, and that her ability to perform magic without a wand was an extra fairy gift.
Since Luna was still young, at age nine, and because she had incredibly powerful fairy gifts, Madam Finch watched her closely. But Luna was already proving to be very careful and trustworthy. Young fairies were not allowed to use their powers lightly. Fairy magic and gifts were not supposed to be used for trivial matters or to solve everyday problems. In fact, younger fairies needed approval from their mentors to perform magic at all.
Luna was very true to the Fairy Code of Conduct and strictly followed the rules. She also knew even without being told that she was an extremely powerful fairy. This made her very determined to always use her gifts to contribute something good to the world, and never inappropriately.
Madam Finch had blond hair, and her real name was Mrs. Thompson. She was a ballet instructor and a Girls Club sponsor. This gave her the ability to spend a lot of time mentoring young fairies and providing good excuses for them to spend time away from home while engaged in fairy activities. As a fairy, Madam Finch wore a greenish-yellow dress made of tiny finch feathers that came almost to her ankles. She had feathery green wings and carried a tiger whisker wand.
Two of Luna's fairy friends, Bettina Gregory and Taylor Buchanan, were coming over for the afternoon to visit.
Bettina had been given the fairy spirit of a snapdragon flower. In fairy form, she wore a yellow and orange dress made of furled snapdragon petals; and her bright orange wings were very tall and wispy. She also had short brown hair and carried a wand made of a black boar bristle that was spiraled like a corkscrew. Her special fairy gift was a fierce ability to defend, protect, and even attack, if necessary. Snapdragon could also fly very fast, like a speedy dragon. The snapdragon flower was named because of its resemblance to the mouth of a dragon, and the snapdragon fairy spirit was gifted with fierce dragon qualities, both offensive and defensive.
Taylor's fairy spirit was that of an evening primrose, a common spring wildflower in Texas. Primrose wore a pale pink dress made of translucent flower petals with delicate gold veins, and her tiny wings were a soft gold color. Her hair was blond and wavy, and she carried a raven feather for her wand. Primrose's special fairy gift was the ability to pick up on small details and solve mysteries. This had proven very helpful just before Christmas. She was able to solve the mystery of what the gremlin, gargoyle, and dwarf all had in common, which then led to the discovery of the Wishmaker. Primrose also had great energy after dark because primrose flowers most often opened up, springing to life, in the evenings.
The girls drank hot chocolate while they sat on the rug in Hope's room and listened to stories about Christmases in Mexico. Hope had lived with her grandparents in Mexico when she was very young. She spoke both English and Spanish, and knew a lot about her heritage. The other girls loved hearing about the colorful customs and traditions of Mexico. It was fun to learn about festivals and celebrations in other countries. Hope was very good at describing these things, so her friends could almost imagine that they were there.
While they were talking, Mrs. Valdez brought in a large plate of penuche, which was a kind of yummy brown sugar fudge, for the girls to have with their hot chocolate.
When the doorbell rang a little while later, they went to investigate.
Mrs. Thompson was talking with Mr. and Mrs. Valdez in the living room. The girls knew that this unexpected visit must have something to do with important fairy business. They kept silent, while the fairy mentor expertly and quickly convinced Hope's parents that she needed to take Hope, Bettina, and Taylor to an impromptu Girls Club activity. She also cleverly arranged for a sleepover at her house that night.
With permission from her parents, Luna hastily packed a small bag with pajamas, clean clothes, and her hairbrush and toothbrush.
Mrs. Thompson had already arranged for time away from home with the parents of both Snapdragon and Primrose. She had explained that the Girls Club event involved important holiday charity work that needed to be done right away, and that the girls wouldn't have time for very many of these activities after school started again.
Mrs. Thompson never had much trouble arranging these kinds of things. It was often nice for parents to hand over responsibility to someone else for a while and take a break from very energetic young girls.