THE KINGFISHER’S GIFT by Susan Williams Beckhorn

THE KINGFISHER’S GIFT

Age Range: 11 - 13
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KIRKUS REVIEW

Beckhorn (In the Morning of the World, not reviewed) gives the heartstrings a real workout in a tale replete with characters nursing private grief. Six months after her beloved father’s death, and with her mother off to a European rest cure in the wake of a nervous breakdown, 12-year-old Franny arrives at her Grandma Morrow’s country house. She’s deep in denial, accompanied by the fairies of her father’s tales (visible only to her), and bearing severe burns she got while attempting to rescue those stories after her mother pitched them into a fire. It soon becomes obvious that Grandmother, the widowed chauffeur Henry, and the Irish maid Ida all have sad secrets—which come out in a climactic rush after Franny’s discovery of a display of mounted, all-too-fairy-like luna moths shatters her fragile composure. Ida’s admission of a baby given up for adoption prompts Grandma Morrow, who has a similar experience in her own past, to rush out to reclaim it; she returns with a foundling, which she presents to Ida as hers. It isn’t, but only Franny, her grandma, and Henry, who is in love with Ida, know the truth. This rather cavalier deception doesn’t bear much examination, but there are tender and tearful moments aplenty here. Franny and her mother are reconciled by the end, and though, unlike the Little Folk in Janet Taylor Lisle’s Afternoon of the Elves (1989), Franny’s fairies put in repeat appearances, and readers are still left with the option of believing that they’re real—or not. (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: May 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-399-23712-7
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Philomel
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 2002