Sitting upon our library's bookshelf, in something of an unassuming air, was a set of three small books by Cicely Mary Barker all about fairies. We found:
1. Flower Fairies of the Trees;
2. A Flower Fairy Alphabet; and
3. Flower Fairies of the Garden.
I read these alone and found them to be indescribably charming in every way. I had to find out more about Cicely Mary Barker and what prompted the creation of her fairy drawings and this is what I discovered:
- She was born in 1895 in Croydon, England. Her father noted that she had a knack for drawing and so enrolled her in at the Croydon Art Society.
- At the age of 16 she was enrolled as a lifetime member of the Croydon Art Society, making her the youngest member ever to receive such an honor.
- Her drawings of fairies, and tendency towards them, was born out of enthusiasm for the subject matter following the work of Barrie's Peter Pan.
- She used watercolors and pastels to create her fairies.
- She always used live models when drawing fairies.
- A lot of her fairies ended up on postcards initially.
- Her drawings of flowers are botanically accurate.
- There is a pretty cool and interactive Flower Fairies website if you'd like to poke around there to learn more or play some fairy games (or send me a fairy e-card! ha!).
The books themselves are charming. (Oh, did I say that already?) Tiny and small, just like the fairies that they represent, they have a feel of Beatrix Potter to them. Each tree has it's own fairy, as does each flower. So, for example, in the Flower Fairies of the Tree book, each page spread highlights a fairy and said fairy's special song.
I give you The Song of the Almond Blossom Fairy:
Joy! the Winter's nearly gone!My personal favorite is the Willow Fairy.
Soon will Spring come dancing on;
And, before her, here dance I,
Pink like sunrise in the sky.
Other lovely things will follow;
Soon will cuckoo come, and swallow;
Birds will sing and buds will burst,
But the Almond is the first!
I dance, I dance, when the breezes blow,I should confess that I'm really not a fan of poetry in general. I'm not one to critique it in any fine sense. It is what it is and I frequently don't get it. The only time it sinks in is when it involves the imagination or Dr. Suess (and that statement is rather redundant right there)! As these fairy books speak to the imagination, I really rather liked them.
And dip my toes in the stream below.
As I said, if I had a girl, I would immerse her and myself in these books. And then I would go fairy hunting with her. Oh yes I would! And we would dream and pretend and imagine and so some of you might be thinking it's a good thing I have boys. Ha! Ha!
Seriously though, these books are pretty amazing. I recommend them to you with my best fairy wishes! For your added enjoyment, here are some of Barker's illustrations: