From The Smoking Poet
Book Review by Zinta Aistars
* Softcover, 112 pages
* Publisher: 1st ed. Aust. Booksellers Assoc.,
2nd ed. Life Magic
* ISBN: 978-0-9752485-1-5
“For those who believe in fairies .... and those who don’t.”
Fairies... do I believe in them? I had to wonder as I read this slim book by Andrew E. Wade, an Australian author. I wasn’t sure into which category I land, believer or non. Surely I believed as a child? And I remember well how my own children believed when they were small, peeking into bushes, checking behind tree leaves, listening to the rustling in the wind. Perhaps I fall into the group of those who want to believe...
Whatever your outlook on fairies, anyone can enjoy the story of Jorell. She is a tiny fairy in Australian woods who guards the forest, but also seems to keep a kind eye out for the occasional good human who wanders into her woods. Eight-year-old Tim is one of those humans. Jorell is taken by surprise when the boy can, in fact, see her, as few humans can. Certainly not as they grow older, inhibited by their own disbelief, their own “unreadiness” to open their eyes and see. But once the two have established that they can indeed interact, and they become comfortable with “mind-talking,” or telepathy, as the preferred mode of communication, it turns out they can help each other in a collaboration between species.
Little Tim’s father, as it turns out, works at the nearby sawmill, and the story of Jorell takes on an environmental message. It is not a simple problem with a simple solution. The loggers are sawing down an old-growth forest. But to save the forest would mean putting many out of work. Add to that Tim’s problem with convincing his father, a very rational and logical man who doesn’t believe in such as fairies, and the conflict of the story is set up.
It is no easier for fairies to believe in good humans. Jorell must convince her own kind to trust them to help in saving the forest:
“...why do you trust him? He has no understanding of us. He and his [human] kind are upsetting the balance of nature - cutting and burning trees, polluting the air, destroying the animals, turning the land into desert, blasting great wounds into the hills and mountains, and forcing more and more of us to withdraw to the forests. What makes this manchild different?
“All that you have said is true, Kraw. I do not excuse what has and is still being done. But humanity is not evil. Most humans are peaceful, loving and kind. They want to live in friendship. It is easy to see the bad deeds, less easy to see the good ones. If we give up, not trusting in the power of love, we are lost...”
A strong message, and true. But will it be enough? And in time? Tim must convince his cynic father of the life in the forest, but he must also come to understand that jobs without a healthy environment are meaningless. He must also convince his young classmates at school, and his teacher, to assist in this effort. Fairy and manchild are fully dependent on each other to solve a shared problem.
This is a charming tale with an important message, suitable for young children, but enjoyable for an adult who perhaps enjoys reading to children. The language is pretty bare bone, the dialogue a tad stilted and unadorned with the detail that might truly bring the scene to life, nevertheless, the merits outweigh these shortcomings.
To learn more about the author and his own experiences with a fairy named Jorell, inspiration for this tale, visit Andrew and his wife Rosemary's blog, The Truth About Fairies.