There is a small island off the coast of Maine, or so the story goes, where the inhabitants protect a secret host of creatures who live in the woods. Fairy Houses, Tracy Kane’s lovely picture book about the magic that comes from believing, tells the tale of what happens when a summer visitor discovers the secret in the woods.
Kristen’s parents promise a surprise for their summer vacation but she can’t guess at what it is until she finds the sign in the woods beyond their cottage: You may build houses small and hidden for the fairies, but please do not use living or artificial materials. Kristen is charmed by the tiny houses she finds nestled in crevices in the rocks or in dark openings in the trunks of old trees. The woods are full of fairy houses made from sticks, pebbles, acorns, bird feathers, mushroom caps and fallen leaves. She begins right away to build her own.
Daily Kristen checks on her tiny house, hoping to spot a fairy. One chirpy day a cricket pops out of the door. Kristen adds some red berries for the fairies to eat and the next day she finds a pair of finches feasting on her berries. She makes a small pool from stones and water from a nearby stream–and a frog splashes in for a quick bath. Acorns and pine cones lure a hungry squirrel. A collection of salty seashells to decorate the house tempts a solitary deer. And then, on the last day of her vacation, something shows up at the fairy house that Kristen can hardly believe.
I love the idea of fairy houses. As a kid I was sure a hive of fairies lived in the clefts of an old tree at the edge of our property. Sometimes I could hear their angry buzzing when people threatened their peace and quiet. I would have been enchanted to make a house for them–maybe less bitching from the fairies, too. A shame I didn’t have Tracy Kane’s delightful book as inspiration–although I do live near a park with a lot of old trees. Maybe it’s not too late.
Fairy Houses (The Fairy Houses Series) Tracy Kane | Great White Dog Picture Company 2001