A fascinating introduction to one of the greatest hoaxes of all time, deftly pitched to elementary-age children.

FAIRY SPELL

HOW TWO GIRLS CONVINCED THE WORLD THAT FAIRIES ARE REAL

Long before there was Photoshop, in the days when photography was an infant technology, a teenager produced photographs that convinced the world fairies are real.

When 9-year-old Frances Griffiths told her disbelieving parents she saw fairies by the waterfall behind their country house in England, Frances’ 16-year-old cousin, Elsie Wright, wanted to prove Frances’ story. She painted paper fairies and photographed them. Then she took photos showing the girls interacting with the dainty winged creatures in the valley behind Elsie’s house. The girls never meant to fool the world, but the photographs fell into the hands of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Like Frances, Conan Doyle believed in fairies, and in 1920 he published the photographs in the widely read Strand magazine and wrote that he believed they were conclusive proof of the existence of fairies. After experts declared the pictures genuine and Conan Doyle’s article appeared, an innocent prank turned into a hoax that lasted until Frances and Elsie finally revealed their secret over 60 years later. Nobleman introduces readers to this remarkable story in a compact, engaging narrative that’s respectful to its young audience. Complementing Wheeler’s delicate, detailed illustrations of the all-white human cast and its middle-class English milieu are reproductions of the famed photographs.

A fascinating introduction to one of the greatest hoaxes of all time, deftly pitched to elementary-age children. (author’s note, not seen) (Informational picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-544-69948-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2018

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Lovely illustrations wasted on this misguided project.

LUNAR NEW YEAR

From the Celebrate the World series

The Celebrate the World series spotlights Lunar New Year.

This board book blends expository text and first-person-plural narrative, introducing readers to the holiday. Chau’s distinctive, finely textured watercolor paintings add depth, transitioning smoothly from a grand cityscape to the dining room table, from fantasies of the past to dumplings of the present. The text attempts to provide a broad look at the subject, including other names for the celebration, related cosmology, and historical background, as well as a more-personal discussion of traditions and practices. Yet it’s never clear who the narrator is—while the narrative indicates the existence of some consistent, monolithic group who participates in specific rituals of celebration (“Before the new year celebrations begin, we clean our homes—and ourselves!”), the illustrations depict different people in every image. Indeed, observances of Lunar New Year are as diverse as the people who celebrate it, which neither the text nor the images—all of the people appear to be Asian—fully acknowledges. Also unclear is the book’s intended audience. With large blocks of explication on every spread, it is entirely unappealing for the board-book set, and the format may make it equally unattractive to an older, more appropriate audience. Still, readers may appreciate seeing an important celebration warmly and vibrantly portrayed.

Lovely illustrations wasted on this misguided project. (Board book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Dec. 11, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3303-8

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Little Simon/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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A lovely 20th-anniversary tribute to the towers and all who perished—and survived.

SURVIVOR TREE

A remarkable tree stands where the twin towers of the World Trade Center once soared.

Through simple, tender text, readers learn the life-affirming story of a Callery pear tree that grew and today still flourishes “at the foot of the towers.” The author eloquently describes the pre-9/11 life of the “Survivor Tree” and its heartening, nearly decadelong journey to renewal following its recovery from the wreckage of the towers’ destruction. By tracking the tree’s journey through the natural cycle of seasonal changes and colors after it was found beneath “the blackened remains,” she tells how, after replanting and with loving care (at a nursery in the Bronx), the tree managed miraculously to flourish again. Retransplanted at the Sept. 11 memorial, it valiantly stands today, a symbol of new life and resilience. Hazy, delicate watercolor-and–colored pencil artwork powerfully traces the tree’s existence before and after the towers’ collapse; early pages include several snapshotlike insets capturing people enjoying the outdoors through the seasons. Scenes depicting the towers’ ruins are aptly somber yet hopeful, as they show the crushed tree still defiantly alive. The vivid changes that new seasons introduce are lovingly presented, reminding readers that life unceasingly renews itself. Many paintings are cast in a rosy glow, symbolizing that even the worst disasters can bring forth hope. People depicted are racially diverse. Backmatter material includes additional facts about the tree.

A lovely 20th-anniversary tribute to the towers and all who perished—and survived. (author's note, artist's note) (Informational picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: Aug. 31, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-48767-2

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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