________________ CM . . . . Volume XIX Number 33. . . .April 26, 2013


The ABC Field Guide to Faeries.

Susanne Alexander-Heaton. Artwork by Chantal T. Gabriell.
Calgary, AB: Motivated by Nature (www.motivatedbynature.com), 2009.
58 pp., hardcover, $24.95.
ISBN 978-0-9813048-0-9.

Grades 2-4 / Ages 7-9.

Review by Kerri Hutchinson.

½* /4



P is for Passionella [Pash’on’el’ah]

Passionella is courageous and always on the run.
She loves to go on escapades having lots of fun.
Whether skydiving, rock climbing, hang gliding or such,
She is up to the challenge because she loves life so much.


The ABC Field Guide to Faeries is a fictional story about a set of faeries created by the author to represent different life lessons for children. Going through the alphabet from A (Avriel and Ataija) to Z (Zoryana), each two-page spread features a four-line poem and a wisdom section based on the fairy’s characteristics. The title would suggest this is a companion book to another picture book but that is not the case. The set of 27 faeries (two faeries for the letter A) are unique to this book and are not related to any existing mythology or fantasy stories. This is confusing for the reader because the story lacks purpose and the faeries we are learning about lack any context. The reader is left wondering who the faeries are and why they are important.

internal art     In her short poems, Alexander-Heaton is able to achieve good rhythm and rhyme throughout the majority of her book which makes for a pleasurably read-aloud experience, but her rhyming scheme is imperfect. Furthermore, the poems and wisdom can be overwhelmingly didactic, preaching environmental and moral ethics. It is common for children’s literature to emphasize an overall lesson or message, but the presentation in this book lacks subtlety, and some lessons lack applicability to an average child’s life. From Passionella, the ‘P’ fairy, we learn that she enjoys “skydiving, rock climbing, hang gliding or such” which is absurd for the targeted age group.

The artwork by Chantal T. Gabriell is interesting and experimental for the picture book format. She uses a mixture of photography and computer graphics to create layered images that transform children and adults into the faeries of The ABC Field Guide to Faeries. The illustrations are whimsical and fanciful, but some are bizarre and out of place in the context of a children’s book.

Overall The ABC Field Guide to Faeries fails to illustrate its purpose and does not provide any context for the reader. The poems and illustrations are unique but easily become overbearing and awkward.

Not Recommended.

Kerri Hutchinson lives in Waterloo, ON, and is a Branch Librarian for North Perth Public Library in Atwood, ON.

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

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