Rainbow Magic Fairy Books by Daisy Meadows

Rainbow Magic Joy the Summer Vacation Fairy
The Rainbow Magic Series Online

Spoiler Alert! All the Rainbow Magic Fairy Books (there are over 150 of them!) by “Daisy Meadows” more or less follow a set formula, which I am now about to shamelessly reveal (although it is predictable enough you may well have figured it out already, with or without having seen the books.) You have been warned!

The Rainbow Magic books follow the adventures of two friends, Kirsty Tate and Rachel Walker, aged about 12 (old enough that they are often with their parents, but also allowed to do some things on their own.) The two girls meet while on vacation, and become best friends, spending every possible school break visiting each other at one home or the other. In the summer both families vacation together.

The girls share many adventures, and a tremendous secret. They can see and talk to fairies! And although they must always “let the magic come to them,” come it most certainly does!

Most of the books are in seven volume series (The Rainbow Fairies, The Jewel Ferries, The Sports Ferries, The Weather Fairies, The Pet Keeper Fairies, the Dance Fairies, The… well, you get the idea!) in which each day the girls meet and help a new fairy from the group overcome the trouble being created by evil Jack Frost and his wickedly inclined but utterly bumbling batch of goblin minions. Some adventures are set in fairy land… the girls have been given the ability to transform to fairies when needed, but at other times Jack Frost’s evil magic plays out in the human world, often with comic consequences.

Each book begins with a poem by Jack Frost, as dire in its threats as it is painful in its rhymes and scans. An entire component of fairy magic comes under siege, and the girls and fairies must work together to prevent utter disaster. I know this will come as a shock, but with quick thinking, the creative use of magic, and assisted by the frequent gaffes of the goblins, they always succeed!

We first encountered the series when my oldest two would have been about 3 and 5 years old. Someone plopped “Joy the Summer Vacation Fairy” into our library basket when I wasn’t looking, and home it came. I cringed the second I saw that the “author” was named Daisy Meadows, sure we were in for a taste of “McLit” of the worst sort.

I was right. And very wrong. To my surprise the book was absolute magic, and the series went on to become a tremendously fun and important part of our family reading history. I think this was because, at the time, the kids had a very low tolerance for suspense compared to others their age, to the point I was beginning to get concerned. I figured it was only a matter of time before they encountered something utterly traumatizing, like a Disney movie, at a friend’s house.

The fairy books became the perfect cure for this.

My kids were complete suckers for the drama, found Jack Frost sincerely but (mostly) manageably frightening, and were saved from complete tension overload by the comedic ineptitude and stupidity of the goblins. They would be wriggling in suspense, literally clinging to my arm in concern one minute, laughing uproariously the next. And with a seemingly endless supply of these books we could complete the process over and over and over, until they had finally repeated the pattern often enough to trust that a happy resolution really was coming. (I am proud to say all have gone on to more suspenseful things without the services of a child psychologist being required. Rainbow Magic Fairy books, cheaper than therapy!)

If you do decide to “let the magic come to you” I would suggest trying some of the earlier books in the series. It seems to me they had a bit more substance than the later books we read. (Keeping in mind “substance” is a strictly relative term in this case.)

Turtle by Rebecca BenderReviewed by Susan Jean

(Review copies borrowed from the library).

Encyclopedia Brown Cracks the Case by Donald J. Sobol

Encyclopedia Brown

This book was one of the best books I have ever read. I love the mysteries and being able to guess what happens next. If I could change one thing about the book it would be how they write Mr. Brown and Mrs. Brown all the time instead of their names. I would definitely look for more Encyclopedia Brown books, in fact I have already found one I am going to go read right now. Bye!

Elephant by Rebecca BenderReviewed by Erin

(review copy from personal library).

The Tail of Emily Windsnap by Liz Kessler

Tail of Emily Windsnap
The Tail of Emily Windsnap by Liz Kessler

In this story Emily lives in a boat called the King of the Sea with her mom. She has never been in water before year seven in her school and when she first gets in the water her legs stick together like a tail. She gets scared and doesn’t want to swim again. Eventually she sneaks out at night and discovers that she is a semi-mer. Now she feels like she could swim forever and ever in the endless sea. She meets another mermaid and they become friends. Emily finds out that her dad is a mer-man in a prison really far away and Emily has to get there.

In the end Emily does find her dad, but I’m not going to tell you how. You will just have to read the book to find out! I love this story so much I Elephant by Rebecca Benderalmost have the book memorized word for word.

Reviewed by Erin

(review copy from the library).

***

I must confess, I’ve yet to read this book. I can, however, tell you that for the last few years the CD version has spent far more time here in our home than it has on the shelf of the library that supposedly owns it, and that on many occasions during that time I have gone into the room where it was playing to accomplish some task or other and found myself swept up in the story instead. (The narrator, Finty Williams, does an excellent job of transfusing the story with dramatic energy.) I can also tell you that Erin knows big chunks of it by heart and sometimes she and her sister have great fun quoting lines of dialogue back and forth. And probably none of this would have happened if I had taken the time to read the story description on the back of the CD case.

Rightly or wrongly I have come to have terribly low expectations of any book that features fairies, princesses, mermaids or glitter on the cover. It feels to me like such books tend to be high on glitz and low on substance. So The Tail of Emily Windsnap only came home with us that first time because the image on the CD case did not show a mermaid but a little girl in a sunhat standing on a beach. As I recall, I added it to our basket thinking it was going to be similar to “The Littles” (which we’d just been reading) only with a full size girl.

Thank goodness for my “mistake,” or we would have missed out on hours and hours and hours of enjoyment. And we would have missed out on a tale that is far richer and more nuanced than I ever would have dared imagine given the premise.

Turtle by Rebecca BenderReviewed by Susan Jean

 

Chloe the Kitten (Fairy Animals of Misty Wood) by Lily Small

Chloe the Kitten by Lily Small
Chloe the Kitten by Lily Small

Chloe the Kitten is a fairy animal who lives in Misty Wood. Her job, as a Cobweb Kitten, is to help make Misty Wood beautiful by decorating all the spiderwebs with glittering dewdrops. One morning she wakes up late and nearly misses the window of opportunity to collect her bucket of dewdrops from the dewdrop fountain. Receiving help from a friend she successfully completes her day’s work only to discover that someone has come along afterward and stolen the dewdrops off the webs. It turns out the thief is only a thirsty little mouse who’s lost. Chloe determines to help her new friend find his family even though he lives by the lions and she’s afraid of the danger they may encounter.

Chloe the Kitten is the first book of the rapidly expanding Fairy Animals of Misty Wood series by Lily Small. Its cover, with a cute fairy-winged kitten and embossed shining silver sparkle, is a sure magnet for many a young reader. My five-year-old daughter eagerly brought it home from the bookstore and begged to read it with me immediately. We curled up on the couch, read the first chapter, then the next, and the next, until we finished the whole book in about an hour!

There are many strengths to this book. Lily Small invites readers into a truly wondrous world– a world in which every fairy animal plays an important part, care for creation is a core aspect in everyday activity, and friendship and kindness are encouraged in spite of worry and fear. Sentence structure is simple and appropriate for early readers yet the simplicity does not distract from other elements of the story. Chapter endings are especially strong, raising a question or concern over the next course of action. It’s difficult to stop reading when one’s curiosity is so peaked.

The  one weakness I’d attribute is the lack of Chloe’s contribution to problem-solving in the story. When it comes to the missing bucket, it’s a friend who provides a solution. When it comes to finding the mouse’s family, for all of Chloe’s attempts and tries, it’s the Wise Owl who conveniently makes it happen. Chloe, as a main character who means well, should have had a more direct role in discovering the location of the  “lions”.

All in all, Chloe the Kitten is an excellent book (perhaps most strong as a stand alone from the rest of the series). It’ll capture the heart of any reader that likes cute animal critters, fairies, forests, glitter and pretty.

Reading in the Woods by Rebecca Bender ResizedReviewed by K.C. Darling

(review copy personally purchased).

 

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

Charlotte's Web by E.B. WhiteIn E.B. White’s 1952 children’s classic, Wilbur is a runt of a pig whose life is spared from the ax when a young girl named Fern intervenes on his behalf. Under her care he grows up strong and healthy. Wilbur is sold then to a neighbouring farm where he is befriended by a spider named Charlotte. When Wilbur learns he is being fattened up for killing Charlotte determines to help save him. Here, Charlotte shows us just how powerful and important stories are!

Charlotte weaves the words ‘some pig’ into her web, and from then on Wilbur’s world forever changes. He transitions from being a pig fit only for slaughter to a pig that’s prized:

“You know,” [Mr. Zuckerman] said, in an important voice, “I’ve thought all along that that pig of ours was an extra good one. He’s a solid pig. That pig is as solid as they come. You notice how solid he is around the shoulders, Lurvy?” / “Sure. Sure I do,” said Lurvy. “I’ve always noticed that pig. He’s quite a pig.” / “He’s long, and he’s smooth,” said Zuckerman. / “That’s right,” agreed Lurvy. “He’s as smooth as they come. He’s some pig” (81-82).

Charlotte’s strategy for saving Wilbur embodies the power of story. Her words—her story—remake reality for Wilbur. Charlotte’s writing (‘some pig’) intervenes in the current situation (a world in which a pig is a pig, intended for dinner, not deserving of special attention) and alters it (Wilbur is now some pig and visitors arrive from all over the county to look at him). This ‘new reality’ not only envelops Wilbur, but the Zuckermans, Lurvy, and their entire community as well: “All said they had never seen such a pig before in their lives” (84).

Yet Charlotte’s writing does more than alter people’s perception of a pig. It also alters the pig’s perception of itself, Wilbur’s own sense of identity. Twice Wilbur objects to Charlotte’s plan to write, in reference to him, the word ‘terrific’ in her web. “But I’m not terrific, Charlotte. I’m just about average for a pig,” he says (91). For Wilbur, at this point in time, Charlotte’s story isn’t true. Yet the very next day “everybody stood at the pigpen and stared at the web and read the word, over and over, while Wilbur, who really felt terrific, stood quietly swelling out his chest and swinging his snout from side to side” (96, italics added). Charlotte’s story brings about a shift in the way he feels about himself and, in turn, Wilbur’s sense of identity is altered. Enough so that when Charlotte discusses using the next word (‘radiant’), Wilbur immediately declares, “I feel radiant” (101). What Charlotte speaks and writes of Wilbur directly informs his sense of self. And Wilbur not only has Charlotte’s initial rendering of him as some pig, terrific, radiant, and humble but he also has the countless retellings. Charlotte’s words are repeated, restated, and reaffirmed on multiple occasions by Mr. and Mrs. Zuckerman, the Arables, Lurvy, the minister, the fair announcer, and various members of the crowd.

What’s more, in addition to altering perceptions and identity, Charlotte’s writing alters actions and behaviour. Wilbur takes to behaving ‘radiantly’ by performing flips and twists in the air and walking with a spring in his step (115). Mr. Zuckerman, in appreciation of his terrifically radiant pig, bans manure from the pigpen, orders fresh straw for each day, gives Wilbur better feed and buttermilk baths, and decides to enter Wilbur in the County Fair (84, 96, 150). This former runt of the litter wins special recognition at the Fair and, in the end, will live out the rest of his life without the fear of becoming Christmas dinner. Indeed, Charlotte’s story intervenes into Wilbur’s current situation and alters it.

Charlotte shows us that our words—our stories—have the power to shape perception, identity, actions, and behavior. Both Charlotte and E.B. White demonstrate the power of story to ‘remake’ reality. We at Runcible Review look forward to sharing more about the stories and storytellers that help shape the way we see and understand ourselves and the world in which we live.

Thanks for joining us!

Reading in the Woods by Rebecca BenderReviewed by K.C. Darling

(review copy from personal library)