________________ CM . . . . Volume VIII Number 18 . . . . May 10, 2002

cover Stella, Fairy of the Forest.

Marie-Louise Gay.
Toronto, ON: Groundwood Books/Douglas & McIntyre, 2002.
32 pp., cloth, $15.95.
ISBN 0-88899-448-6.

Grades Kindergarden - 3 / Ages 5-8.

Review by Alison Mews.

**** /4

excerpt: image

"What do fairies look like?" asked Sam.

"They're tiny and beautiful," said Stella, "and they fly very fast."

"I see one!" said Sam. "Look!"

"That's a butterfly, Sam," said Stella.

"Do butterflies eat butter?" asked Sam.

"Yellow butterflies do," said Stella.

"Then I guess blue butterflies eat pieces of sky," said Sam.

"How do you know that?" asked Stella.

"I know a lot of things," said Sam.

Following on the award-winning Stella, Star of the Sea and Stella, Queen of the Snow, Marie-Louise Gay has placed her irrepressible pair of siblings in a woodland setting. Ever-inquisitive Sam continues his wide-eyed look at the natural world but, in addition to asking all-knowing Stella his observant questions, he now offers a few answers of his own.

     As they move through the meadow and into the forest, they encounter ordinary sights that seem extraordinary when viewed through Sam's amazed eyes. For instance, he believes that sheep are clouds that have landed in the field and that butterflies are as magical as fairies. Fearful of bears, bees and slippery rocks, Sam's constant questions demand reassurance from his braver sister. Sam's fears aren't always groundless, however, and the illustration of Stella striding over the wet river rocks, with an apprehensive Sam on her back, is followed by one in which they are both sitting in the river. When it begins to rain, an undaunted Stella suggests they build a forest shelter from ferns and branches. In this cozy nest, Sam at last relaxes and extends Stella's make-believe game with a satisfying contribution of his own.

     Gay's trademark watercolor illustrations perfectly capture the wonder and joy of a foray into the forest. Stella's bold and adventurous spirit is particularly exemplified by the top view in the meadow where she charges confidently ahead, red hair blazing and arms outstretched to meet the world, whereas the smaller Sam, carrying a big stick, trails hesitantly behind her. Using body language and space to effect, Gay has managed to convey the very different personalities of the siblings with a minimum of text and facial expressions.

Highly recommended.

Alison Mews is the head of the Curriculum Materials Centre at the Faculty of Education, Memorial University of Newfoundland in St. John's NF.

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

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Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364