We have our first ‘For Little Ones’ review today, from Helen on our Bookbabblers Parents’ Panel:
Fairy in Danger (Glitterwings Academy) – Titania Woods
I’ve seen these books advertised before and been dubious about them: there are so many fairy-related series out nowadays and titles seem to appear so frequently that I’m sceptical about the quality. However, the reviews quoted from parenting and education magazines reassured me somewhat, and it turns out author “Titania Woods” is well-established teen writer Lee Weatherly, who has a couple of awards to her name. I was also concerned that with this being the fourteenth book in the Glitterwings Academy series, it might be a problem that we hadn’t read any of the others. I flicked through before reading it to my daughter, however, and found that it was fine – the story itself stands alone and any references to previous books, such as why the central character Twink has a particular nickname from her friend Sooze, are explained (although if that happens in every book it might get a bit tedious after a while!), so there is nothing inaccessible about coming late to the series.
Glitterwings Academy is a boarding school for fairies housed in an enormous tree, and the story centres around Twink’s discovery of a mysterious branch (room), very high up, that she has never seen before. When she decides to research it for a school project she meets Shadow, a different kind of fairy, who isn’t a student at Glitterwings and who wants Twink to help out with a job. This means breaking the school rules and sneaking out at night. Should she go along with it? And what danger lies in wait for if she does?
My daughter Erin and I have thoroughly enjoyed reading this together. She’s 4, so it’s the first time we’ve read a book with chapters – as opposed to a whole, short, story – and we’ve been reading it one chapter a night (except for chapters 7 and 8 which had to be read together as the end of chapter 7 was just too tense to leave it there!). She has found the story enthralling and looked forward to reading it each bedtime, laughing at the funnier characters such as Sooze, delighted by the magic elements (she loves anything to do with fairies so we were onto a winner from the start) and begging me to read on quickly during the tense moments. For me the writing wasn’t fantastic – a bit clichéd in places – but it was interesting enough to hold my attention and I was genuinely taken by surprise at one point! I particularly enjoyed the resonances of Malory Towers and other boarding school stories that I enjoyed as a child.
What I particularly liked was that there’s enough peril in there to make it involving and exciting but nothing upsetting or horrible, so completely appropriate for ages 4+. Children who are reading independently could manage it themselves from about 6 I think, but with a 4-year-old there were a couple of things that needed discussing or explaining. There is no indication of how old the fairies are supposed to be (only that they’re in the fourth year) so children of varying ages can relate to Twink and her friends. The book itself is very much aimed at little girls – pastel colours and sparkly bits – so wouldn’t appeal to many boys, I don’t suppose, but I do like the fact that it’s a hardback (for the price of an average paperback) which makes it more durable.
Erin is already talking about getting more from this series and it’s been a great introduction to chapter stories as she’s keen to move on to her sister’s books now!
Thanks, Helen – great review. Fairy in Danger is new out this month, and has been added to our ‘For Little Ones’ section of the shop. Thanks to Bloomsbury Children’s Books for sending us a copy.