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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Rainbow Fairies by Daisy Meadows

Rainbow Fairies by Daisy Meadows
It started innocently enough...

Sounds ominous when I resort to this age-old phrase, doesn't it? But that sums up exactly what happened. A couple of weeks ago.

See, thanks to my senior cohorts at Saffron Tree, and when I say 'senior' there are no geriatric implications, just that they were fortunate enough to be blessed with Motherhood way before I was and hence have been able to amass this wealth of good books that were a hit with their wee ones that they don't mind sharing freely...

Okay, now, where was I? Oh yes, so, a couple of weeks ago, wanting to break the monotony of reading larger volumes with collected short stories for kids, and collections of poems for kids, and in an effort to keep up with the explosion in Ana's language skills, I enthusiastically borrowed from my local library the first set of chapter books: Rainbow Magic series of 7 books by Daisy Meadows involving the Rainbow Fairies.

Thankfully the first 5 books came right away while the last 2 in the series were still on hold. Would have driven me crazy if it was vice versa regarding holds.

The Saturday that we managed to pick the first five up will remain a Saturday to remember: Ana sat spellbound as I read the first book Ruby, the Red Fairy, and when I finished, she was speechless. Only for a few minutes. Then, she looked expectantly at me for the next one and did not leave me alone till I read all five to her back-to-back in one go when Oggie was napping.

And then again, for an encore performance immediately, as Og was still catching up on his quota of sleep having spent the night before exploring the virtues of nocturnal life.

The breathy rasp that crept into my voice from overuse that day still lingers.

And thus started our entanglements with Rachel & Kirsty (can't help chanting 'Thirsty Kirsty' seeing this spelling): two girls who don't listen to their moms when they say,"Don't go too far", and engage in amateur acts of derring-do in an attempt to find the seven rainbow fairies - viz., Ruby, Amber, Sunny, Fern, Sky, Inky and Heather, with a little help from none other than King Oberon and Queen Titania of Fairyland (yep, A Mid-summer Night's Dream popped into my head too).

Why do they need to be found, you wonder? Well, evil Jack Frost cast a wicked spell to throw them out of Fairyland 'coz the ditzy little fairies forgot to invite him for the ball.

And serendipitously, the spell trapped these fairies in Rainspell Island where Rachel's & Kirsty's respective families are vacationing for a week.

In the beginning, Rachel's & Kirsty 's age is anyone's guess, but by the nondescript sketches that accompany the text, they could be teens and hence have the license to wander around, I am sure. Or so it is, to keep things simple for my fanciful 4½ year old.

Needless to say, every night since that fateful Saturday, Ana picks one in the series and gets me to read the whole 65-to-70-page (about 7½x5½, paperback, 14pt double-spaced) book before I can tuck her in.

And I willingly oblige, taking my time to throw in the sound effects and voice-overs as needed, trying to rewrite the book in my head in real-time as I read aloud to avoid the repetition of "suddenly" and "gasped" and "whispered" and "cried" and all the painfully mundane details of each subsequent action of the girls which Ana seems to follow with jaw-dropping wonder.

Now, if these were all, then I'd know for sure she'll get tired of them and that would be that and we can graduate to other chapter books.

However, the clever quartet called Daisy Meadows managed to churn out series after series where Rachel & Kirsty encounter little Weather Fairies, Jewel Fairies, Pet Fairies, Petal Fairies, Dance Fairies, Ocean Fairies, You-Name-It Fairies...

...and the stories pretty much started sounding the same to me, but certainly not to the resident Fairy-phile.

Now, I am all for immersion, be it language or culture. And when the smitten little kitten of mine wanted to do some art projects involving these rainbow fairies, I couldn't refuse. I have been there, believe me. In the recent past. What was I smitten with, you ask? Ah, that I'm afraid has to remain a mystery.

And we've visited Rainbow Magic Online more than I intended in the last couple of weeks. Rather than printing off the coloring pages from there, I liked that Ana wanted us to sketch them ourselves, even if they look terribly distorted, thanks to my left-handed nonchalance.

So, that's how I managed to make the magic-mirror-ish sketches of the fairies which she meticulously colored in with her imagination - yep, fairies can have colorful skin, it makes them pretty - Krishna has blue skin and she is gorgeous, right? - well, as to why Ana refuses to believe Krishna is not a 'she', I am not sure - have to save that for another day...

Okay, where was I again? Oh yeah, here's a snippet of the fairies adorning our art notebook (nevermind the ruled pages - it is a handy notebook for Ana's flights of fancy). The amount of glitter that got smeared on these pages is hard to measure - all I know is I had 4 full bottles at the start and now they are all empty.

Crystal the Weather fairy may not hold the same magic that Ruby and Amber and Sky hold for Ana, but, these pesky fairies have a way of growing on you and I can't help wonder what I have let myself in for.

Reminds me of the time about two years ago almost to date when Ana's characteristically finicky cleanliness took a temporary vacation thanks to Fly Away Katie making an impression on her wee mind slowly and surely over a couple of weeks.

Now, not being privy to this fairy-immersion going on in our household, Ana's teacher pointed me to a piece of art work that Ana did in school, completely independently, including the writing.

Ana matter-of-factly explained that these are "Bark Chip Fairies" and that they are "Happy. I am glad she did 'coz connecting the "BRC hep" and the colorful dancing figures and "HAPE" would not have been easy otherwise!

Dear Daisy Meadows, if you are looking for more ideas, let's collaborate on Bark Chip Fairies, please! I love what you have done to help my baby girl's fancies!

Why chapter books now? That thought has to be explored in its own post someday...

However, the simple motivation for me happened to be: I wanted to see her wheels cranking, taking the words in, turning them into vivid images in her head, her visualization and imagination supplying the necessary props to make the words from the books create the magic in her head!

And she seemed ready for it. This doesn't mean we are closing the door on picture books, not at all. But, just that it opens up a new door and we like to see where it can lead us.

Why Rainbow Fairies? Philosophically speaking, Why Not?

But, history shows:
  1. Ana loves fairies;
  2. she couldn't relate much to Fancy Nancy after the initial infatuation;
  3. Amelia Bedelia fell flat at her current age, will have to try it later;
  4. Madeline made an impression but wasn't as fanciful as she prefers;
  5. Opal (of Toot & Puddle) did catch her fancy but there aren't many of hers (and Olivia didn't stir her the same way Opal did);
  6. Angelina Ballerina struck a chord, but, she couldn't place herself in the books;
  7. Beatrix Potter's Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny and Jemima Puddle Duck were all fine at three, for a brief spell, but, the style of language and the elegant simplicity of the stories seemed a bit out-dated for her liking, but I plan to revisit this down the road
Besides, just because I like it and find it all that, I shouldn't expect Ana to feel the same way... at least not at this tender age.

Her aching, "I wish I could be in a book... a fairy book", confirmed that this is a step in the right direction.

And it made me smile inwardly because she didn't say 'I want to be a fairy'... considering how desperate she is to find a convincing answer to, "Do fairies poop and pee? What do they eat and drink?"

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At 4:54 AM, Blogger Poppins said...

Oh I loved reading this post. Am going to look for this series now - have heard so much from the 'seniors' as you say :)

At 11:32 AM, Blogger ChoxBox said...

Glad they were a hit with Ana! We print out those sheets to colour all the time as well :)

-- a 'senior cohort'

At 1:03 PM, Blogger Sheela said...

Poppy, just my experience, it helps not to worry about the tiresome language but focus on the events that unfold and allow the child to picture it all in the head without much visual aid...

and, for us, it helped that she got into it: she'll make Appa be Jack Frost and Og be Queenie or Fluffy or one of the animals who don't say anything much, and she'd be Kirsty and I'd be Rachel and act out the stories, making up our own events along the way :)

immersion, all the way... and it did help her learn a few new words, I'd call it was productive ;)

At 1:19 PM, Blogger Sheela said...

ChoxBox, Thanks! Keep them lists coming - oh, the choices! Not everything will appeal to every kid, so, it is nice to have a selection to spring on them and see how it goes...


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