Worth the Candle
Nowadays light is easy to come by; as are new, flashy things to occupy our time. But in such an abundant world, some wonderful things can be overlooked. Each week, Hicklebee's wants to remind you of a terrific book that was published years ago, but that remains worth your effort to buy it or find it at the library.
Worth the Candle has toted up more than a hundred brief reviews, and there is still at shelf at Hicklebee’s where these titles congregate. This isn’t where you’ll find a copy of Goodnight Moon or Harry Potter. Those books enjoy our love, but they thrive without special attention. Instead, the shelf is a place to find lesser-known gems—books we’d like to wave a magic wand over and turn into perennial bestsellers. So that even a generation from now, they will still be enchanting readers.
Worth the Candle—whether you’re in the store or online—is a special place to browse.
There comes a time in young readers’ lives when they want to devour book-after-book of formulaic stories. If they are good independent readers by that point, all’s well: They’ll read their full and then move on. But, of course, sometimes kids are devouring those cookie-cutter books while they require parent participation in the form of reading aloud. And as many a parent knows, sometimes all those books about candy-color fairies and unicorn masters or cat princesses and dragon tamers can just make you want to gouge your eyes out.
The antidote--at least in the matter of the fairies--is The Night Fairy, a lush little novel by Laura Amy Schlitz that is enhanced with gorgeous color-plate watercolors by Andrea Barrett. Night Fairy is about the perils of Flory, a young, still-growing-into-her-powers fairy who gets stranded in the daytime. Survival in the bright world will seem almost impossible: That Flory also matures into a brave and compassionate heroine is even more miraculous.
Schlitz is known for historical fiction for older middle-grade readers. (Her forthcoming book--a novel-in-verse about Rome--is lauded at this blog; you can preorder it here.) So it might come as a bit of surprise that The Night Fairy has such excellent fairy world-building and feels so perfect as a book to read aloud with those who have only recently graduated from lap-sitting or to hand to a newly independent reader who is ready for a stretch. But what’s not surprising is the sophistication Schlitz’s writing. Here’s one perfect paragraph from a book that’s full of them:
“There are those who say that fairies have no troubles, but this is not true. Fairies are magical creatures but they can be hurt--even killed--when they are young and their magic is not strong. Young fairies have no one to take care of them, because fairies make bad parents. Babies bore them. A fairy godmother is an excellent thing, but a fairy mother is a disaster.”
The Night Fairy never bores. It is an excellent thing.