Small Persons With Wings (a Review)

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Small Persons With Wings (a Review) on

This is a fairy story with a difference. Set in modern USA, these fairies are not sweet, wish granting Tinkerbelles. They are snooty and completely self-absorbed, and the only magic they are any good at is making themselves and their homes look gorgeous in over-the-top Louis XVI style grandeur.

The main character Mellie is delightful and likeable; she’s a nice kid who is lacking in self-esteem, a top student and a reader. Her parents are loving and supportive, both normal and unusual in their own way. When Mellie was little, she spent her time playing with her fairy friend.

At kindergarten, she is teased because she is overweight, and in an effort to make friends and feel better about being excluded, she announces that she has a fairy at home and to prove it she will bring him in for show and tell. The class is excited and suddenly Mellie has friends.

The only problem is that her fairy is furious about being a show and tell item and disappears. Mellie has to front up to class with no fairy to show off. She stoically suffers through endless teasing, bullying and humiliation until she decides to reject imagination:

‘From that time on, I was a new person. I spent recess organizing the classroom crayons by size and color. I became the best speller in my class. I absorbed grammar and punctuation. After a long day of refusing to enjoy Roald Dahl, I taught myself to multiply and divide… If I caught myself wandering off I’d mutter ‘Fairy Fat’. That reminded me how everything imaginary – Fidius, Spongebag Whatsisname, Laura and Mary in the Big Woods – can suck you into believing in them and ruin your life.’

Now she’s a teenager, and the family has to move to take over her grandfather’s inn. No-body can fill them in on how the old man died, and while she is exploring, Mellie is forced to admit that the Small Person With Wings who tumbled out of the chandelier is real.

This leads to the uncovering of an astonishing family secret her parents have kept from her – not only do fairies really exist, her family is bound by an ancient promise to always provide a safe haven for them.

With the help of the boy next door and her parents, Mellie embraces magic again and works at finding the mysterious and powerful stone called the Gemmaluna. Using it Mellie can see through magical appearances to the truth of what is underneath.

As well as being a story about a girl finding the confidence to be herself and discovering truths about her family, this story also reveals trouble in the fairy world; by using artificial magic, the Small Persons With Wings are slowly destroying themselves. They have to decide as a group to give up their showy, shallow lifestyle and return to a simpler, more natural way of life: I like this idea.

Both myself and my daughter really enjoyed this story with its unusual and funny characters, a touch of magic and a plot that keeps you guessing – we highly recommend it.

Find It in Your Library!

  • Title: Small Persons With Wings
  • Author: Ellen Booraem
  • Publisher: Dial Books for Young Readers (Penguin), 2011
  • ISBN: 978-0-8037-3471-5
About Vanessa Hatley-Owen

A book lover and children's story writer from New Zealand.
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.” - Dr Seuss.

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