cover image Fairy Spell: How Two Girls Convinced the World That Fairies Are Real

Fairy Spell: How Two Girls Convinced the World That Fairies Are Real

Marc Tyler Nobleman, illus. by Eliza Wheeler. Clarion, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-544-69948-9

Nobleman (Boys of Steel) resurrects the story of an early 20th-century hoax that pulled the wool over the eyes of many Britons, including Arthur Conan Doyle. Cousins Frances Griffiths and Elise Wright copied elaborate drawings of female dancers in flowing garb from a book, then photographed themselves outdoors with these “sprites.” After Doyle published the photos, alongside his article about fairies, in a popular magazine, “everyone was aflutter.... Some readers saw it as a historic discovery, others thought the photos were fake.” Silent on the subject for decades, the two women later confessed their deception, albeit leaving one mysterious photo up for debate. An inviting layout combines Wheeler’s delicately styled ink-and-watercolor illustrations with archival images of the girls’ photographs and an excerpt from Doyle’s article. The willowy pranksters, a pale woodland palette, and butterfly-dotted skies match the English fairy-tale setting. This recounting of a fanciful, enchanting fraud will leave younger children guessing until the end, and many more readers will embrace the suspension of disbelief, a phenomenon Frances ascribed to the British believers of that day: “They wanted to be taken in.” Ages 4–7. [em]Illustrator’s agent: Jennifer Rofé, Andrea Brown Literary. (Apr.) [/em]