Summer Reading: The Fairy Rebel

The Fairy Rebel
By Lynne Reid Banks
But the most utterly astonishing thing to Jan — apart from her being there at all — was her clothes. She was wearing a full, floaty top, which seemed to be made of tiny petals all stuck together. That was quite fairylike. But her legs were covered with what looked like a minute pair of blue jeans, and these were definitely not fairylike at all.

I’ve always been secretly glad that my daughter never went through a fairy phase. There’s nothing wrong with those pastel-hued fairy adventures, of course, but to me, they’re just mind-numbingly dull. (If there's an exception, do let me know!) And I think I can blame that on The Fairy Rebel, which spoiled me forever for other fairies with its punky, pink-haired, blue jean-wearing, rule-breaking heroine.

Tiki — the fairy rebel of the title — meets Jan, a human, when she accidentally bumps into her big toe during a daredevil race with her best friend. The two quickly become friends — even though the fairy queen has strict rules about fairies consorting with humans. In fact, Tiki is so fond of Jan that she wants to grant Jan’s wish for a baby — even though the fairy queen has even stricter rules about fairies granting wishes to humans. Soon Jan has a perfectly lovely baby with a fairy name (Bindi) and a tiny cluster of magical blue strands hidden beneath her soft brown hair. Tiki sends her little fairy goddaughter spectacular presents every year — until Bindi turns eight and the fairy queen decides the time is ripe for revenge.

Really, the story is simple enough, but the book is delightful, in large part because of brilliantly realized characters like Tiki and her best friend Wiljic (who is tired of sipping nectar and yearns for a bite of hard-boiled egg). The fairy queen, with her ability to command bees and wasps, is truly terrifying. Lately, I’ve read a few feminist critiques of the story, which fairly point out that the book focuses too frequently on the appearance of female characters and takes a paternalistic view of marriage—I don’t remember being bothered by these things during my own childhood readings, but they’d certainly be good conversation starters. But I am always up for nit-picky conversations about literature, so I may be a bit biased.

Certainly, I’m a biased toward this book, which I think should have a spot on every family’s must-read list.


We’re reprinting some of Amy’s summer reading series favorites from Atlanta Homeschool magazine on the home/school/life blog.