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4.7 out of 5 stars
The Night Fairy
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85 of 85 people found the following review helpful
on March 1, 2010
Format: Hardcover
My librarian recommended this for my 5 y.o. but suggested I read it first to make sure the content was appropriate for her. I couldn't put it down. The writing is beautiful and the illustrations made me wish the fairy would leap out of the book and be a part of my world. I can't wait to read this to my daughter.

I also think this would be an excellent book for kids who are ready to take the next step to bigger chapter books. The language, while beautiful, is easy to read and each chapter is interesting and fast paced. The content is engaging and the character goes through some emotional development that may be age appropriate for the 7 - 9 y.o. set.

I hope there will be sequels to this book.
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61 of 66 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
Why do children, most notably little girls, like fairies? I think we can understand the princess allure. Princesses get to wear frilly clothes, sparkles, and absolutely everyone has to obey them. So why are fairies also popular? Laura Amy Schlitz has a theory. Princesses wear corsets. Fairies don't. Princesses have responsibilities. Fairies don't. Princesses spend a lot of time inside castles. Fairies spend a lot of time outdoors. If the romance of the princess is that you get to be above the rough and tumble everyday realities of life, the romance of the fairy is that you get to be in the thick of it. Flying, running, dodging, hiding, and getting to be in nature like no other creature. Now Ms. Schlitz has created a fairy story for her future "wild women of America". On the surface, The Night Fairy looks like a beautiful object d'art. Wriggle inside its pages, though, and you're reading the story about the kind of creature who fights monsters one minute, and sews herself the most delicate of flower blossom dresses the next. Beauty and excitement all in one slim little package.

"Flory was a night fairy." Was, I'm afraid. Like others of her kind she was perfectly content to flit about at night. Unfortunately Flory was born with lovely luminous wings so pretty that one night a bat crunches them by mistake, and Flory finds herself wingless. Alone and hurt in a strange garden, she becomes determined to be a day fairy and sets about taking care of herself. She befriends a hungry squirrel and the two help one another out. She makes herself a home in a birdhouse In the midst of all of this, however, she still longs to fly again. One day she sees a hummingbird and becomes determined to tame and ride it. Such plans, however, hit a wall when Flory discovers that wanting something and then actually getting what you want are two very different matters.

I don't know where this notion that fairies are insipid came from. I guess there's a feeling that a lot of them just sort of flutter about for no apparent reason. In light of this, Flory may have to become a spokeswoman for anti-fairy defamers. Sure, when the book begins it says that like those other fairies Flora is "coasting on the breeze, letting it toss her wherever it liked," but she's soon plunged into the real world and has to make her way. Using her cleverness she finds shelter, gets food, makes clothing, and finds an ally. All the necessities of life are ticked off, one by one, all thanks to her ingenuity. She also makes herself a weapon, though, and on more than one occasion she has to do battle with forces much bigger than herself. Typically fairies are considered girly territory, but there's nothing about Flory that a boy wouldn't also enjoy. She's feisty, a fighter, and she knows what she wants (most of the time).

The other charm of fairies, and I really hadn't thought about this until Ms. Schlitz brought it up, is how tiny they are. I wonder why that's so appealing. Kids are already small. You would think their instincts would be to want to be huge. Yet tiny things entrance them. Dollhouses and miniature train sets and the like. I guess the idea of being small was why Thumbelina was one of my favorite books growing up. Imagine behind able to use a flower as a boat and to pole yourself away. Flory gets to immerse herself in the wild, and there's a lot to love about that. As a kind of child surrogate, she also gets to indulge herself. It's not just that fairies are free but that they're also willful like kids. Flory wants her own way. She's clever enough to get it most of the time too, but much of this book is about Flory learning that others have needs too. My husband likes to say that in a good work of fiction characters want what they want. Flory is the perfect embodiment of this. She wants what she wants and when she has to acquiesce to what other animals or creatures want it takes an extra effort for her to understand this.

To be fair, the very packaging of this book is a great part of its charm as well. The size is small, bringing to mind the Flower Fairy books of Cicely Mary Barker. The pages are thick and white. Each chapter begins with a small silhouette of some of the action that is about to happen. And every watercolor in the book has a purple border on one side, usually close to the gutter of the novel, that features a vine of thorns and berries. It's quite subtle. You might not notice it on a first or second reading. Near the end of the book, this border duplicates itself to appear on either side of the two-page spread of Flory's ultimate triumph. Little details like this allow a book to feel loved. A reader might not notice the curlicues beside the page numbers or the embossed silhouette underneath the book's cover (take it off and see for yourself) but if they do notice it will sit well in their unconscious minds.

And then there are the watercolors by Angela Barrett. Ms. Barrett has sort of made a name for herself, illustrating books with luminous images. Her Beauty and the Beast by Max Eilenberg, for example, is one of the best picture book versions of the tale out there. For this book, she has created illustrations that almost resemble colored pencils, they're so light on the page. I'm personally a fan of thick lines and deep colors, so the sketchy nature of the art isn't one that I'm immediately drawn to. Still, I could appreciate Barrett's use of light and detail. It is clear that she read the book thoroughly. The first image we have of Flory is of her standing at night, her wings still intact, her silver shadow (the shadows of night fairies are silver instead of black) casting a bright path behind her.

Another thing Barrett does so well here is understand the sense of scale. Schlitz writes at the beginning that Flory was "as tall as an acorn". She's remarkably small. You get a vague sense of this at the start, but it isn't until you see Flory confronting Skuggle the squirrel that it really hits home. For American kids in many parts of the country, squirrels are pretty reliable go-to wildlife. You see them everywhere. You understand roundabout how big they are. So to see Flory standing about as high as Skuggle's knee, that hits home.

At times it reminded me a bit of Miss Hickory, a book by another Newbery award winning author (though I am happy to report that unlike Miss Hickory, Flory doesn't get her head eaten at the end of her story). One thing we can conclude at the end of this book is that Laura Amy Schlitz truly has a way with words. She simply has never written a bad book. In the past she has conquered fairy tales, biographies, Newbery winners, and middle grade fiction. Now chalk off "bedtime stories" with The Night Fairy if you please. It's difficult to do what she does. In this book you'll find the ultimate fairy title. One you not only won't be ashamed to hand to a kid, you'll be encouraging them to give it a try. Another winner.

Ages 6-11.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
This book is sure to be ranked right up there with the works of Kenneth Grahame and Beatrix Potter. I am not a fairy fan... my tastes run to fantasy with more of an edge so I have most always steered clear of fairies in the books I recommend to my library patrons. This book has changed my mind. Flory is a fairy with attitude! After losing her wings in a bat accident, she is forced to make a life for herself on her own in a garden full of creatures such a squirrels, spiders, birds, giantesses and even the dreaded bats. She shows ingenuity and spunk as she learns to defend herself, gather her own food and to make a true home. Her adventures are exciting and her "negotiations" with the local animals in order to get what she wants are priceless.

The illustrations are charming and really add to the story - they strike just the right note of whimsy. I would recommend this to anyone, no matter what their age. It took me back to when I was a kid and my favorite book was Wind in the Willows. Don't miss this one.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on January 9, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I read this book this weekend because I needed to knock down my TBR pile. I was reluctant to read this novel because fairies are not really my thing. The cover gave me the impression of a lovely sweet little story that some kids love. That is not my cup of tea. I started to read the book and found myself realizing that there are some lessons to be learned from this book.

1. Don't let things that we cannot control affect who we are. Flory tries to be something she is not after losing her wings. Her journey helps her to open her eyes about judging others, but she tried way too hard to be something that she was not. How many people(including ourselves) have fallen prey to this mindset?

2. Don't judge a book by its cover. As I write this I chuckle to myself realizing that is exactly what I did with this book. The larger meaning is that we are so quick to judge and stereotype and not give people a chance without ever giving them an opportunity to express or display who they really are. Working at a middle school I see this phenomenon all the time. How do we stop people from juding so quickly? I wish I had an answer, but it is something we are all guilty of at some point in our lives.

3. What goes around comes around......the whole full circle concept. I completed this book and felt like I needed to watch the Lion King scene

We can only control our own actions. If we live life the way it should be lived, then we will find ourselves right back where we need to be only with more knowledge and insight to live better.

I went deep with this book designed for younger ages. It is a good read. I rather found myself doing more reflection on my own life from this book than any self help book. Check it out and see what you learn.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
I've been hearing lots and lots of Newbery buzz about this book, and decided to check it out for myself. This story, about a tiny but tough fairy named Flory and her adventures in a suburban garden wilderness reads like an instant classic. The language is beautiful and expressive -- it feels like an old-fashioned fairy tale.

Flory faces many trials and tribulations after a bat mistakenly crushes her wings, leaving her flightless, but not defenseless. She temporarily switches her allegiance and attempts to live as a day fairy, carving out an existence for herself in a tree trunk, learning minor magic spells by instinct more than anything else, and corralling a greedy lug of a squirrel, named Skuggle, into serving as her roommate and traveling steed.

Schlitz says that she was "motivated by the girls who come into the library where she works, seeking books about fairies. They adore the prettiness of fairies, the miniature-ness." This book delivers on that score. While many books about fairies seem to set their scale as being about Barbie-doll height or perhaps a little shorter, Flory is probably only as tall as an acorn. The gorgeous full-color illustrations show her dwarfed by the squirrel and even the praying mantis and spider that she battles with tower over her.

My immediate reaction was that this is exactly the sort of book that teachers and parents desperately wish would win the Newbery. It has everything to charm and delight, and nothing to offend. There are difficulties to be overcome, but no one dies. There is no love interest or coarse language. The Night Fairy is simply a sweet, readable fairy-tale, without straying into pablum. It's a solidly middle-grade read, with no reason to class it with YA (which has it's own Printz award). I'd say The Night Fairy is appropriate for grades 2-4, although it would work well as a read-aloud for younger children as well. What's my verdict? Will it win? Schlitz has won before for her collection of medieval reader's theatre, Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village. The Night Fairy is so unique... I can't think of another book quite like it. I could definitely see this garnering an Honor nod, at least.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on March 26, 2010
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
When a sleepy bat mistakes her for a moth and takes a bite, Flory the night fairy is left wingless--and with one fear: bats. She decides to become a day fairy to avoid the creatures, but the day is not without its own dangers: squirrels, spiders, praying mantises...but Flory, always stubborn and resourceful, learns to survive and makes a home.
The Night Fairy is an ideal read-aloud for any children old enough to handle a few scary moments--the language is lyrical and descriptive, making it a pleasure for the adult reading as well as the child being read to. From the first lovely description on page one, "eyes that sparkled like blackberries under dew," to its humorous and endearing ending, this book is definitely one that fits into that "small gem" category along with its main character. I loved the wonderful world-building of fairy life--the petal dresses, the thorn dagger--I loved the humor and the cast of supporting characters, especially Skuggle, the most squirrel-like squirrel you will ever come across, I loved the adventure, I loved Angela Barrett's beautiful illustrations. The omniscient narrative voice was slightly off-putting; it came across as very obviously human and adult. I would prefer a firmer handle on the fairy perspective, but I will allow that this familiar narrator may make the story readily accessible and familiar to young readers.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on August 6, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I just finished reading this book to my almost 6 year old. She LOVED it. It's her new favorite chapter book and just what I had been looking for. It was easy to read/understand, but very exciting, and full of adventure. I'm so glad to see a fairy being shown in this light. Flory is no pansy. My daughter is very into princesses and fairies, but I don't like how they portray them in most books. This was a refreshing change and I do hope there is a sequel.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on March 10, 2010
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I loved this book. The book is a great story about fairies. Loved it! I put in my library so when my grandchildren are here they can read it. Not a good bedtime story, just good reading.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on December 4, 2012
Format: Paperback
I'm a nine year old girl. This book is epic! It is about a fairy who loses her wings and lands in a human's garden. It is about her life in the garden and how she survives. I have read it 10 times. What I love about it is the story and how I fell in love with the characters. I would recommend it for ages 7 - 10.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on August 8, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I just read this with my daughter(8 years old and reluctant reader) as fun summer reading. She loved it! At the end of every chapter she moaned and pleaded for me to read more. I also teach first grade and this is a great change from the repetitive "Sparkle Fairy" book series. I highly recommend this book!
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