Sunday, May 16, 2010

Night Fairy, by Laura Amy Schlitz - a magical adventure with a feisty fairy (ages 6 - 10)

One mark of a great book is that it changes the way I look at the world. As I walked through my garden this weekend, I found myself looking at the plants and listening to the birds in a whole new way - wondering about the tiny creatures that live there, whose live I know nothing about. I found myself wondering about what tiny creatures live all around us, wondering if there are fairies or if the animals have friendships. Another mark of a great book is that I find myself thinking about it as I go through my day, returning to the magical world or relating that world to my own.

The Night Fairy, by Laura Amy Schlitz, is a truly wonderful, magical book. I just finished reading it aloud with my 6 year old and we both loved it. It stirs your imagination, celebrates a character with feisty independence, and makes you look at the natural world around you in a whole new way.
The Night Fairy
by Laura Amy Schlitz
illustrated by Angela Barrett
MA: Candlewick Press, 2010
ages 6 - 11
available from Amazon or your local public library
audiobook available through
Flory is a brand-new night fairy, just born and getting used to her beautiful wings. Fairies, you see, aren't raised by mothers, but must make their own way in the world. Suddenly, a bat clamps down on Flory, eating her wings before spitting her out and letting her fall to a tree below. Flory, now wingless and in shock, hides in the white blossoms of the cherry tree until she finds an abandoned bird house to make her home.

Unable to fly, Flory is forced to make her way in this new environment, becoming a day fairy and making friends with the animals in the garden. Flory is feisty, temperamental and manipulative in the beginning of the story - not what you'd call a good friend at all. Through hard challenges of surviving in a realistic world where predators must find prey to eat, Flory discovers that compassion and generosity help you gain friends, trust and happiness.

Written in short chapters illustrated with beautiful full-page watercolors, The Night Fairy works wonderfully either as a read aloud for 5 - 7 year olds, or as an independent reading book for older children. It has exciting and somewhat scary parts that will appeal to readers who want suspense and action (a frightening spider and praying mantis) - I had to keep showing my daughter the picture at the end to reassure her that Flory would have a happy ending.

My daughters have long built fairy houses in the garden - imagining little creatures that live under the leaves and come out at night when everyone is away. There is something about the tiny scale that fascinates them - I think it's being able to imagine being smaller than everything else around, hiding and watching the world without anyone seeing you, but still having power and magic. The Night Fairy celebrates that sense of imagination, that sense that things beyond our sensing are real. This is a book that helps them imagine those possibilities, helps bring them to life. Throughout the whole book, my daughter was measuring how big Flory was - at first the size of an acorn. She would measure Flory in the pictures, or try to imagine her crouched on a squirrel's ear. The tiny scale of the book and of Flory was part of its draw.

You can read an excerpt at and see some of the beautiful illustrations. You can also read a letter from Laura Amy Schlitz where she describes her inspiration for writing this book.

It is available as an audiobook on - the excerpt sounds wonderful, and I think the book would translate well to an audiobook. But I have not listened to the whole audiobook.

There are many other reviews. Some of my favorites are:

A Year of Reading: "I wish I could send this book back to my 9 year-old self. I would have loved everything about it -- its small size, its thick pages, the shimmery end papers, the illustrations, the dedication to ME!!!"

The Book Aunt: "The Night Fairy is the best of everything a book should be—an adventure, a fresh take on fairies, vivid storytelling, and a tale in which the main character's experience of becoming will sweep readers along with her. To top it off, this book is physically beautiful, with a design and interior illustrations so perfectly suited to the story that it's hard to believe the illustrator isn't the author."

The HappyNappyBookseller: "There is a simple beauty to this story. Each day brings something new for Flory. It was a pleasure to watch Flory navigate her new world and learn how to interact with others."

Fuse #8: "I don’t know where this notion that fairies are insipid came from. ... In light of this, Flory may have to become a spokeswoman for anti-fairy defamers. ... 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"

Kids Lit by Tasha at the Menasha Public Library: "Schlitz’s writing is laced with magic. This deceptively slim volume holds so much story that it could have been much longer. Instead, Schlitz has written a tightly woven story gilded with wonderful language. The language invites readers deeply into the story, lets them know that something special has been written here, and then sails them off on adventure."

The review copy was purchased for our home library. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion will go to Great Kid Books (at no cost to you).


  1. Glad to hear your for-real 6 year-old loved it as much as my inner 9 year-old did!