Monday, December 3, 2012


Blume, Lesley M. M. Modern Fairies, Dwarves, Goblins & Other Nasties: A Practical Guide by Miss Edythe McFate.  Illus. David Foote. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2010. ISBN: 978-0-373-68203-8. $16.99. Ages: 10 and up

For a trailer of the book, check out Lesley Blume's website:

I am eternally grateful to Miss Edythe McFate for sharing her extensive knowledge about the very modern and very real world of fairies and their fantastical counterparts. I am equally indebted to Lesley M.M. Blume who interviewed Miss McFate and made the stories available. Finally, I want to thank illustrator David Foote. It is because of his marvelous illustrations in concert with Edythe McFate's extensive knowledge of "the wayward natures, properties, and habits of fairies" that I am confident in my ability to identify fairies, both friend and foe, and take proper precautions. While I won't give all the secrets away (you truly need to read them yourself), I will share the most important trick of all: How to tell a good fairy from a bad one.

Fortunately there is no absurd combination of unattainable materials—all you need is a penny. Here's what you do: The moment you realize you are in the presence of a fairy, put your penny on the floor. "If the penny glows blue, you're probably safe. If the penny glows green—or worse black—run away immediately, and don't look back for a second." This is also the point in time that you need to take additional steps to protect yourself. Don't know how to do that? Well, that's exactly why Modern Fairies, Dwarves, Goblins & Other Nasties exists.

In addition to identifying fairies and their like and how to interact with them, Miss Edythe McFate also provides until-now-unknown answers to some of life's most stubborn mysteries. What are they? Well, again, that's something you need to find out for yourself. I will tell you, though, that you will finally get the answers to why hair turns white, where those missing spoons go, and why swimming pool water sometimes becomes green. But there is so much more...

If you, like Miss Edythe McFate, are from New York City, you will be delighted to encounter many landmarks that you pass on a daily basis. Some of these landmarks are obvious: Central Park, the Lincoln Tunnel, and Carnegie Hall; but there are some you might have to look for more carefully. Don't live in New York City? That's okay— Modern Fairies will give you enough information to recognize fairies' presence anywhere.

In closing, I have a final note for parents: If you are unable to deal with your child's ability to see things that you do not or are unwilling to handle clothes and socks that may be worn inside out or are easily annoyed by creative thought, then this book might not be for your child. Then again, carefully consider those minor irritations in light of what might happen when your child encounters the unstable, but quite marvelous world of fairies. As Miss McFate always says, "forewarned is forearmed."

Though this is probably better suited to the young adult reader, Modern Fairies is so engaging that I think it will pull the advanced (or maybe not so advanced) younger reader through all 242 pages. The text is delightful and the illustrations are spellbinding; there is not a boring page in the book.

Read it.

Stephanie Ashley

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