cover image Laura Ingalls Wilder's Fairy Poems

Laura Ingalls Wilder's Fairy Poems

Laura Ingalls Wilder, Stephen W. Hines. Doubleday Books for Young Readers, $15.95 (48pp) ISBN 978-0-385-32533-2

Little House fans will undoubtedly snap up this small-trim collection of Wilder's early, dewy poems about fairies, but, like Louisa May Alcott's Flowers Fables (reviewed below), they are definitely not her best work. The front matter is the choicest part: a striking portrait of the author, a short biographical sketch describing her forays into newspaper publication (a San Francisco paper published these poems in 1915), and an adaptation of a 1916 essay encouraging children to believe in the ""Little People."" (Wilder's plea includes the story of ""the infidel who asserted that he would not believe anything that he could not see."" The man, according to Wilder, was smartly answered by a Quaker: ""Friend! Does thee believe thee has any brains?"") The five poems that follow, however, are as coy as Victorian valentines. Hull (The Alphabet from Z to A [With Much Confusion Along the Way]) skillfully wends his precarious way through the predictable assortment of rainbows, petals and sparkling dew. The illustrations, of such subjects as fairies who ""paint flower faces"" and dab speckles on tiger lilies and random babies, luxuriantly combine slightly surrealistic greenery and arresting details. The paintings teem with winged creatures, acorn-skirted fairies sporting Punch and Judy faces and enough overgrown flowers for a Burpee's seed catalogue. Hull's quirky and animated art provides a tart accompaniment to Wilder's sugary vision of fairies who dance with sunbeams, ""tuck their toes in cloudlets"" and turn into a ""rainbow in the sky!"" All ages. (Oct.)