There was something wrong with the baby fairy’s wing.
It hadn’t developed correctly and, despite her best efforts, Violet was unable to fly. A fairy that can’t fly just isn’t right!
So Violet’s fairy siblings were determined to find a way to fix their baby sister’s wing. But that meant flying deep into the dark forest where there were dangerous owls, scary spiders and a host of other creatures that would turn their fairy life upside down.
Away With the Fairies is a new book by author/singer/songwriter Mary Murphy. Born in Ireland, Murphy knows full well the truth about fairies and their magical escapades. Truth be told, I think she’s half-fairy herself.
On June 9, Murphy is offering a Very Merry Fairy Saturday. It begins with the Courtenay Library Literacy and the Power of Imagination Fairy Party.
From 10:30 a.m. to noon, children can create their own table place mat, make a fairy bookmark, receive a special fairy pop and, if they choose, receive their very own fairy name from the magical Queen of the Fairy Book.
Murphy encourages all boys and girls to come dressed as fairies and bring their imaginations. The event is free and parental/adult supervision is required.
Later that day Fairy Mary will be launching her book at the Laughing Oyster Bookstore from 2 to 4 p.m. This is a great opportunity to meet the author and find out all about fairies.
And on June 17, Murphy will bring her fairy stories to to downtown Courtenay to celebrate Car Free Sunday. Copies of Away With the Fairies will be available at the library, the bookstore and Murphy’s table near Scotia Bank on Car Free Sunday.
Away With the Fairies has recently been accepted as curriculum for kindergarten through Grade 3 classes at the Camellia Waldorf School in Sacramento, Calif.
“Indeed they are being used as teaching tools, and will achieve popularity in Waldorf schools, where fairies are absolutely understood to be real to the young child and where we Waldorf teachers believe in the importance of child development through storytelling,” Ruth Bucklin says in an e-mail from the school.
Murphy is exploring other placements in public elementary schools, alternative schools and libraries.
I think part of the appeal of Away With the Fairies is that it’s much more than a book. Murphy’s original stories of a fairy family and their adventures are accompanied by the lyrics to four songs, colouring pages for younger folk and a vocabulary challenge and word puzzle for older children.
And that’s not all. Also included in the package is a CD with Murphy reading stories aloud and singing the songs. And tucked in behind the CD is a tiny fairy dressing doll, commonly called a paper doll in North America, and an outfit for her to change into.
Murphy claims Away With the Fairies is suitable for ages four to 104. I fall somewhere in the middle and was enchanted by the fanciful stories and quirky characters such as Nash the Dash, Broc the Badger and Minar the Mouse. The stories, often based on Murphy’s siblings early childhood escapades are funny, heart-arming and downright magical.
I particularly enjoyed the CD. Thanks to Murphy’s partner, Paul Keim, at Dove Creek Studios, the recording and sound quality is excellent. And Murphy’s distinctive voice for each character is a delight to listen to.
Actually, it made me feel like I was a once again a wee one cuddled on my mom’s lap listening to a story before bed.
“I believe that families bond over books, not TV shows or videos,” says Murphy. “I had my favourites when I was growing up and so did my children, we all loved Winnie the Pooh, Wind in the Willows and stories by Beatrice Potter and Hans Christian Andersen.
“And I really appreciate it when authors don’t talk down to children,” she adds. “I believe writers should use lively language and vocabulary. Children learn the meanings through the context.
“That was an important aspect of this book for me. I also wanted to emphasize the joy of the story and the importance of opening kids’ minds.”
And there’s no doubt Murphy knows her subject well. Born in Wexford, Ireland, she was just a youngster when her family moved to New York City. Like many newcomers, they were drawn to others of the same culture.
“We were all very very contained within our families and as immigrants in an Irish neighbourhood,” she says. “It’s what everyone did. And every Sunday we all got together to tell stories, dance, sing and share a meal. We didn’t leave Ireland, we brought it with us.”
A Comox Valley resident for nearly a decade, Murphy usually makes an extended visit to her birth land once a year. So it’s no surprise that Away With the Fairies has some strong family connections.
Many of the characters are named after siblings, some of the adventures are based on true incidents and the winsome illustrations, drawn by Murphy’s daughter, Fiona Van Housen, are created from images of family photographs. The book cover is part of a painting by close family friend Will Millar of the Irish Rovers.
The fairy fun continues on Murphy’s website where the young and young at heart can learn Irish words, jokes and recipes, create their own story or become part of the website. A person can even hire Murphy’s daughter to create a drawing of themselves or a loved one as a ferry.
“What I’d really like to do,” explains Murphy, “is find someone interested in purchasing a bulk order of 20 or more books to donate to a hospital, Lilly House, a hospice or anywhere children are in a situation where they need to escape with the fairies. I’d be very happy to offer a special discount for that.”
Away With the Fairies, (Dove Creek Studios, 48 pgs, illustrations & CD) retails for $21.95. Book are available through Laughing Oyster Bookstore, www.marymurphy.ca and at events.