Freddie and the Fairy by Julia Donaldson
Somehow, I’ve not managed to review a book by a Children’s Laureate, yet, so wtihout furthur ado, I give you Freddie and the Fairy by the current Children’s Laureate and writer of the phenomenally popular The Gruffalo, Julia Donaldson.
Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Books
Freddie is desperate for a pet, and lucky him! He’s just found a fairy in a tree and she can grant wishes! There’s just one problem – she can’t hear very well and Freddie’s wishes keep getting jumbled. He keeps ending up with things that sound like what he wished for, but luckily the Fairy Queen lets him know what he’s doing wrong. You see, he’s been mumbling, and the poor Fairy couldn’t hear him properly. So now he makes sure he doesn’t mumble, or talk with his hand in front of his mouth, and the Fairy can hear him properly and make his wishes come true!
Very cute story from the author of the Gruffalo and the current Waterstone’s Children’s Laureate. I especially love the teeny tiny blue hearing aid behind the Fairy’s ear. For a story that does have a message behind it about disability and deafness, Donaldson and George do a remarkable job in making that message very subtle. You know what I mean – I always get really annoyed with those stories that are written purely to introduce a disability or difference, and end up doing nothing but making the whole thing more of an issue than it needs to be – but this one, while it does focus on the Fairy’s being hard of hearing, is gentle, funny and the hearing aid or deafness is never mentioned, only alluded to with that tiny smudge of blue behind the Fairy’s ear. A brilliant way to make a non-issue out of something children will encounter at some point.
Very funny and a great for playing with language and sound, with all the things that the Fairy conjure’s up that rhyme with Freddie’s wishes. I wonder if you could make a new game out of it, or plan a lesson around it? With that in mind, this might not be one for bedtime reading, as I’ve got images of it sparking off exhaustive games of ‘Sounds like’. Despite that possibility, it’s a lovely story and one of my favourites from Donaldson.
It’s also worth mentioning that book was the one that Karen George won the chance to illustrate in the Waterstone’s/Macmillan Children’s Books Picture This competition for new illustrators. I can see why – beautifully soft illustrations in warm colours, each picture looks like it’s been very lovingly produced and with great care. Just sigh-worthy.
Buy the book here
Read more about the Waterstone’s Children’s Laureate and Julia Donaldson here