“Boy and girl fairies live on our shoulders,” says singer/songwriter and author Mary Murphy.
She’s Irish so she should know. In fact, she believes in fairies so much she even has her own fairy outfit. And when she wears it, she’s called Fairy Mary.
To promote children’s literacy, Fairy Mary has launched an online writing contest for children age four to nine. And she’s teamed up with the Courtenay branch of the Vancouver Island Regional Library to present Fairy Mary’s Summer Story and Writing Adventure Series at the library the first four Thursdays in August.
“I want to encourage young children to write,” says Fairy Mary. “And I want it to be really fun and creative. Parents might have to type the story into the entry form but the words have to be the children’s own.”
Entrants can write a 100-word essay on I Love Forest Creatures and/or Fairies or an experience they’ve had with fairies or forest creatures. The contest is free but children must reside on Vancouver Island.
Six judges — a Fairy King and Queen, a Brownie, a Badger and a Mouse Queen and King — are making a special trip from Ireland to help Fairy Mary select the contest winner.
“The judges will be looking for real feelings and observations, not perfect grammar,” says Fairy Mary.
Generous sponsors mean Fairy Mary is able to present fabulous prizes from Laughing Oyster Bookstore, Courtenay Pet Centre, Hot Chocolates, Blue Heron Books, Whale’s Tale Toys and more.
The contest winner will be announced at the Courtenay library on Aug. 22. To find out more or enter the contest, visit www.marymurphy.ca. Look for the monkey reading a book.
The Fairies and Forest Creatures Summer Story and Writing Adventure Series takes place at the Courtenay library Aug. 1, 8, 15 and 22 from 1 to 1:30 p.m. each day.
In these free, drop-in sessions, Fairy Mary will lead children in a story telling and writing adventure. Children do not need to enter the writing contest to attend.
“The adventure series is a good way for children to use their imaginations and be creative,” says Fairy Mary. “I hope to encourage a love of reading and writing.”
Previous Fairy Mary events at local libraries include A Very Fairy Mary Holiday and Family Literacy Day.
As well as listening to stories and talking about words, children will also make crafts and be eligible for prizes. Since every child must be accompanied by an adult, there are even prizes for moms and dads. All prizes will be presented at the Aug. 22 celebration where goodies will be served.
For the adventure series Fairy Mary will be dressed in her finest fairy costume and invites boys and girls to dress up as fairies or forest creatures if they like. Children are welcome to attend any or all of the sessions.
If you’d like to support Fairy Mary’s Literacy Program, click on the reading monkey link on her webpage and follow the prompts or visit Courtenay’s Finneron Hyundai Facebook page and click on like from now until Aug. 1 and the car dealership will contribute $1 to the program.
“Thank you Finneron Hyundai and all my other kind-hearted sponsors,” says Fairy Mary. “I was born to create and believe my history in the arts in living proof of that.
“At this point in my life I seek what used to be referred to as a patron of the arts,” she continues. “Through an enthusiastic patron I could achieve so much more toward the advancement of children through literacy and imagination.”
When she’s not being a fairy, Mary Murphy is a singer/songwriter and performer who released her ninth CD, Honey from Heather, this spring. She is also the author of two books, a novel The Emerald Diaries, Secrets of an Irish Clan and a collection of stories for children, Away with the Fairies. The Mah Endowment for the Arts presented Murphy with an award for advancing children’s education in Away with the Fairies.
Paula Wild is a published author and regular contributor to the Comox Valley Record’s arts and entertainment section.