________________ CM . . . . Volume XVII Number 13. . . .November 26, 2010


Faeries Are Real.

Crystal J. Stranaghan. Illustrated by Izabela Bzymek.
Vancouver, BC: Gumboot Books, 2007.
32 pp., hardcover, $19.95.
ISBN 978-0-9784047-1-0.

Subject Headings:
Faeries - Juvenile poetry.
Children's poetry, Canadian (English).

Grades 2-4 / Ages 7-9.

Review by Ellen Heaney.

*1/2 /4


Isabela Bzymek, an Ottawa- and Vancouver-trained artist, is clearly in love with fairies. She sells their images on her website when she is not working on animated films such as Oma’s Quilt, produced by the National Film Board in 2008. Her artwork, featuring human and non-human figures of all sizes with a variety of exaggerated features, has the look of being digitally-created, appearing warm-toned and slightly blurry.

internal art     Author Crystal Stranaghan has a number of strings to her bow, including life coaching, teaching public speaking and writing books for both children and adults.

      The publisher, Gumboot Books, says that it “specializ[es] in production of books, educational materials and other green products for the young and the young at heart”.

      Faeries Are Real is a scrapbook-style compilation of images and poems about a variety of creatures with different personalities and abilities. Like many books dealing with fantastical subjects, the book purports to have been inspired by the discovery of a journal damaged by weather but recording the lives of ‘real’ fairies.

      The text consists of rhymes of varying lengths, some with an uneasy metre, each of which offers a caption or a mini-tale describing each portrait.

An example is Phez and Plianna:

Just like humans in a book, Faeries lose their heart with just one look. Love can come slow, or come quick as a flash, But if it’s strong and true, it forever will last.


Xerek and Mareus Xerek and Mareus – snow angels they are not.

They’re always in some kind of sticky, troublesome tight spot. They love nothing better than a fight out in the snow, And their giant pile of snowballs is always ready to throw.

     Stranaghan’s writing is labored, and, while the illustrations are quirky, the whole thing does not hang together as a strong contender in the children’s book stakes. I would struggle to recommend giving it a place on library shelves even though some children might be amused by some of the pictures.

Not recommended.

Ellen Heaney is Head of Children’s Services at the New Westminster Public Library in New Westminster, BC.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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