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Friday, February 7, 2014

Tree Review: -Middle Grade - The Night Fairy, by Newberry Medal Winner Laura Amy Schlitz, illustrated by Angela Barrett

“Hey, Caitlynn. Trying to dream another book report?” Brien calls over the fence to Caitlynn.

Reading on a rock, Caitlynn looks up and smiles. She waves and calls to him. “Hi, Brien!”

Brien climbs over the fence. “Jake told me you had a dream about me and a book and talking trees.” He sits on the rock beside Caitlynn.

“It wasn't about you. There was a boy in a book named Brian. Jake thought you should read the book.”
“Oh.” Brien deflates. “That's not what Jake said. Well, do you dream book reports, at least?”

“I dream trees are talking about the picture books I read here in the yard.”

“Oh.” Brien deflates again, then brightens, “That would be pretty cool if you dreamed the answers to your homework and stuff.”

Caitlynn puts a book marker in her book and closes it. “Well, I did have a dream about a book I could use for a book report. It's called The Night Fairy, by Laura Amy Schlitz.”

“Not more fairies! Caitlynn don't you ever talk about anything else. Why'd ya have ta go and read about 'em, too. You've got to get over this fairy obsession.”

“Do you want to hear the dream?” Caitlynn asks with a smile.

Brien sighs. “Okay.”

“No. I better not. I don't want to bore you.” Caitlynn opens her book again.

“Stop pretending you're not dying to tell me. Just tell it already!” He snatches at her book.

Caitlynn yanks it out of his grasp. “Nope. You're tired of hearing about fairies. I don't want to talk about something you're tired of.”

“Caitlynn, don't be like that! Now you're just being mean like Jake! Don't make me beg. Tell me the dream already!” He crosses his arms and pretends to sulk.

Caitlynn laughs and closes her book, again. “Okay. In my dream this Dogwood tree right here, named Nannette, said...”

“You name your trees?” Brien rolls his eyes. “Weird! And you're proud of it, too!”

Caitlynn chuckles. “Nannette said, 'Do you think my petals are as pretty as the Cherry tree in Night Fairy? Flora could have dressed in my petals, too.'”

Brien snorts.

Caitlynn ignores him. “Then Cho, that little Japanese Maple over there, said, 'I remember being small enough to fit in a bird house.'

“Skylights, the tall Elm tree over in your yard said, 'Not me. Even though it was just a few years ago. I only think about growing, growing, growing. I want to catch up with Two-Deer.' That's the big Maple tree in my back yard.

“Then Red Spray, the rose bush there in front of the walkway, said, 'I like that she carries a thorn around for a weapon. It makes me feel dangerous.'”

Brien interrupts, “The fairy in the book carried a weapon? That's pretty cool for a fairy.”

Caitlynn smiles. “It's a good book. You should read it. Anyway, Anya, this little Black River Birch here, said, 'I wish I had a bird house in my branches. Birds are so much fun to watch.'”

Brien interrupts again, “You sure do know your trees!”

“Daddy-George makes sure he knows the name of every plant in the yard. He says it's the duty of every land owner to know their land. Then Spike, your White Pine said...”

“But Spike... I mean the Pine tree isn't even in your yard.”

“I always quiz Daddy-George extra hard, so he learns the names of the trees near our yard, too. So Spike said, 'You're too fragile for a bird house. You need to get stronger, like Flora,' that's the fairy's name, 'like Flora needed to get stronger. Keep growing, little Anya.'

“But Anya argued, 'There's not enough water here for me. I need a river or creek.'

“So Spike said, 'Maybe you could adapt like Flora did, but I was just saying you can't support a bird house, so stop wanting one.'

“Anya argued, 'I can dream, can't I? Dreaming won't make one of the humans - Flora calls them giants, isn't that funny - anyway, it won't make a human hang a bird house from my branches.'

“And Nannette said, 'Yea Spike, let her alone.'”

Brien chimes in, “Girls always stick together.”

Caitlynn laughs, “Then Spike said, 'You flowering trees get so touchy when you're in bloom.'

“And the Yew bushes by your door, Benny and Lenny, chuckled.”

“You named those bushes Benny and Lenny? Why?”

“I didn't name them. They just have names in my dreams. So Benny, that's the one closer to us, said, 'Yea, flowers make you cranky. That's why we decided not to have them.'

“But Cho said, 'No, you don't have them because your ancestors don't have them.'

“Then Lenny said, 'We could have them if we wanted to, but we don't.'”

Brien shakes his head, “Do trees really argue that much?”

“I don't know. I just dreamed it. Maybe, they do.” Caitlynn shrugs. “It's not like they could get up and move away if they didn't like their neighbors. Anyway, then Skylights, your tall Elm, said, 'You two are just cranky cause you got trimmed so small.'”

“Benny said, 'Why do those boys always trim us? They never trim you, and you're growing like a weed.'”

Brien gets mad. “Caitlynn! Jake told me you'd do this! Why do you always make these stories about our trees and bushes being mad at us?”

Caitlynn laughs, “I'm just telling you the dream. Don't take it seriously. It's a dream! Besides, listen to what Two-Deer called to them, 'Stop complaining, trimming makes you stronger. All of you are arguing more than Flora and Skuggle.' Skuggle is the name of the squirrel in the book. Then Two-Deer said, 'It's a good thing those sting spells of Flora's aren't real.'”

Brien laughs, “There's spells in the books, too? Maybe I will read it.”

“You should. I can lend it to you. But to finish the dream, Anya, the River Birch here, said, 'Skuggle was so cute. I wish I was strong enough to have squirrels climb in me. Do they tickle, Two-Deer?'

“Two-Deer said, 'Sometimes, but they chew my tender buds an awful lot. You should be thankful, Anya you don't have them.'

“Cho said, 'Rabbits are worse!'

“Nannette said, 'You're all acting just like Flora; as if you don't like helping others. But the book showed otherwise. I liked hearing this book. Even if Flora wasn't quite like any fairy I know, she was tough and adventurous and she learned a lot. I could almost smell her emotions.'

“Cho asked, 'How were the pictures? I wasn't close enough to see them?'

“Nannette and Anya said at the same time, 'Watch my memories.' Anya continued, 'There were some very nice ones, you wouldn't want to miss.'

“Then I woke up.” Caitlynn finishes.

“What's 'Watch my memories' mean? And how can you smell emotions?” Brien shrugs, “Are you going to use The Night Fairy for a book report?”

“Do you think I'd miss an opportunity to talk about fairies?” Caitlynn grins

Brien laughs, “Jake's right, you are fairy-nutso!”

Caitlynn laughs.

The Night Fairy. By Laura Amy Schlitz. Illustrated by Angela Barrett. (Candlewick Press, c 2010) ISBN 978-0-7636-3674-6.

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