cover image The Fairy Ring: Or, Elsie and Frances Fool the World

The Fairy Ring: Or, Elsie and Frances Fool the World

Mary Losure. Candlewick, $16.99 (192p) ISBN 978-0-7636-5670-6

In 1920, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle published photographs in the widely read Strand magazine that he believed proved the existence of fairies. The pictures had been taken a few years earlier by two cousins, nine-year-old Frances Griffiths and 15-year-old Elsie Wright. Tired of adults teasing them about Frances seeing fairies, Elsie borrowed her father’s camera and produced photos showing the girls interacting with dainty winged creatures in the valley behind Elsie’s house. After experts declared the pictures genuine and Conan Doyle’s article appeared, it wasn’t long before events spiraled out of control and led to a myth that lasted more than 60 years. Losure’s first book for children details the events that led the girls to their fame and adds the personal recollections of those involved from their own later writings. Accompanied by the famous photos, the story is written in an accessible narrative style that includes the attitudes of the time and explains historical items like the use of hatpins and how cameras of the period worked. An intriguing glimpse into a photo-doctoring scandal well before the advent of Photoshop. Ages 10–up. (Mar.)■