The Cottingley Fairies

Ana Sender. NorthSouth, $17.95 (48p) ISBN 978-0-7358-4338-7
In 1917, photographs taken by Yorkshire schoolgirls Elsie Wright and Frances Griffiths appeared to capture images of actual fairies. Arthur Conan Doyle disseminated the photos, then defended them from accusations of fraud, and people flocked to the site. Years later, the cousins confessed that the fairies in the photos were paper cutouts, but Frances maintained that one was real. Writing in Frances’s voice, Sender imagines the bliss she and Elsie found in the natural world: “We swam in the stream, climbed the trees. We napped in the shade and played with the creatures of the forest.” Curving organic forms in softly sketched lines and gentle colors portray the girls’ encounters with impish, winged fairies. When the sprites refuse to be photographed—one sticks her tongue out, and another moons the camera—the girls resort to photographing paper models. A final spread shows Frances grown old, gazing out her window: “Almost everything has changed, and sometimes I find it hard to distinguish memories from dreams.” This one moment of doubt aside, Sender comes down on the side of the fairies, and readers may find themselves hoping she’s right. Ages 4–8. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 01/14/2019
Release date: 03/05/2019
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