by Ethel Cook Eliot, published 1918
“Ivra was different. Because she was only half-fairy, any human could see her whether his eyes were shadowed or not, if he would only look hard enough…When a human did see her, he was likely not to believe in her. He would just think he was day-dreaming.”
Here’s a children’s book that understands and loves the unseen folk: the fairies, the tree sprites, the good witches, and more. Ethel Cook Eliot was a master storyteller in a tradition that is fully carried on in Waldorf Schools today. One can almost hear her voice telling, not writing, these stories to children wrapped in the cloak of imagination. And yet, here they are in writing. Some have gone out of print. But most are still available through River Rocks Press in Ohio. (To reach the publisher, email John at jmrrpress at gmail.com. Be forewarned that a large number of very poor quality versions of the book are available if you search on Amazon, so I don’t recommend it.)
The heart of this children’s book is the pure beauty and goodness of nature. All the little beings we encounter have some direct connect to Mother Earth and her seasons. At the same time, there is a slight resemblance to Grimm stories, as there are bad witches, mothers who disappear, and orphan children. However, if your child has managed to hear Grimm’s tales and taken them in, then this children’s book is a piece of cake in comparison. There’s nothing over the top scary in it.
The fascinating part of the book is the willingness to believe in goodness, and to accept the world of fairies. In my own thinking, exposing young children to this world is an important part of their childhood, and I’m grateful Eliot’s books are still available. Her classic book, Wind Boy, is probably better written than this one, but there are so few books of this genre, they are all worth reading. A big thanks to Circle of Hands in Sebastopol for offering all of Cook’s great books.