cover image Child of Faerie, Child of Earth

Child of Faerie, Child of Earth

Jane Yolen, Jane Dyer. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, $16.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-316-96897-3

Like an old Scottish ballad, Yolen's poem about the friendship between a faerie boy and human girl is told with a stately tone and compelling melody. ""He was a child of faerie folk,/ A child of sky and air,/ And she was a child of humankind,/ Of earth and toil and care."" When the two meet on Hallow's Eve, the girl ends up dancing the night away with ""brownies and boggles and sprites/ And elven folk and all,"" and drinking ""the dew,/ The faerie brew/ Of rainbow hue."" In turn, she leads the faerie boy ""over the human road"" where he marvels at ""a world of colors pure and bright,/ Of open sight,/ Of warm sunlight,/ Unlike the shadowed world of night,/ Of moon and thistledown."" When neither can bear to leave the worlds into which they were born, they exchange gifts (she gives him an egg, and he, with a spell, draws a feather from the egg as gift to her) and periodically visit each other, remaining ""friends fast,/ From first to last."" Accompanying the poem's quiet music like a fairy harp, Dyer's vibrant and magical watercolors alternate between scenes of translucent twilight and golden earth, as the beauty of each world and its children is displayed. Although the formality of the poetry may be a bit confusing for youngest children (and some may wonder, in the last drawing, why a faerie would age), many readers will fall under this book's enchanting spell. Ages 4-8. (Oct.)