by Eloise McGraw, published 1996
“She was not much in the habit of thinking, only of howling her bitter, lonely anger at her exile from all she knew and understood- her homeland, the Folk, and their paths crisscrossing the moor.”
Stories of fairies are (or should be) a big part of young children’s lives. But then there comes a time when they feel they are too old for such fairy stuff, even though in their soul, they remember. A children’s book like this one is perfect to help the remembering. The children who read it can be grown up (12 and up), too old to believe in fairies, but able to enjoy reading about them in a grown-up way!
This children’s book is not easy reading. The language is literate, and often reads like an Irish or Welsh tale. There are difficult characters, like a goatherd who drowns his sorrow in drink. And there is the chilling idea that one baby, the fairy, was cast out, and another baby, a human, was taken from its parents. Add to that the witch hunt of the villagers when they discover the girl is a fairy.
If you are still reading this review, then you might ask, why read this children’s book? It is phenomenal. I got lost in the real world of the fairies. Neither the human world nor the fairy world is perfect; you get to see both their flaws. But the heroine has the best of both worlds – responsibility, emotion, thoughtfulness. It is a terrific metaphor for children who fear they don’t belong, because they don’t recognize their unique gifts.
I cried at the last chapters, because the transformation was so complete. It’s not a happy ending per se, it’s the perfect ending. I think Waldorf children who understand the fairy world will love this children’s book. I suppose it could be read by younger than 12, but I’m not sure.