I was given a most fabulous gift this week. My favorite reading teacher, Mrs. Brandt, brought me a surprise from her recent vacation trip. A book. A most wondrous book. A book that she had a hard time finding, but one that she knew I would treasure. A book that she saw and then didn’t see and had to go on a hunt for. A book called A Finder’s Magic. And it happened to be magical that she found it!
A Finder’s Magic
by Philippa Pearce
illustrated by Helen Craig
published by Candlewick Press in 2008
It begins —
There was a boy who went to bed in despair. All night he dreamed his despair, and he woke to desperation. Then he slept again and dreamed, this time a short, strange dream. He dreamed of a garden gate and someone waiting there.
What a way to begin a tale! A boy in despair! What does this portend?
This tale has a fascinating back story. The author, Ms Pearce, who is the author of many award-winning children’s books, wrote this particular story for her grandsons, Nat and Will. (The name of the boy in the book is Tillawn, an anagram of Nat and Will.) Ms Pearce wrote the story specifically to be illustrated by Nat and Will’s other grandmother, Ms Craig. Ms Craig is an acclaimed illustrator of many children’s books. Can you imagine having TWO such grandmothers?! Well, Ms Pearce died about the time that Ms Craig began work on the illustrations for her story. So she never got to see the end result! I think that she would have liked it very much.
So, for the story — It’s the story of a boy who has lost his dog. A dog that he loves very, very, very much. That’s why he is in despair. The dog, Bess, is his best friend in the world. The love that the boy feels for Bess pours out of every page of this book. One day on their daily walk Bess somehow manages to come out of her collar and races ahead where she disappears in Gammer’s Meadow. Till, the boy, could not find her anywhere. Despair. Oh, I could feel his tears.
A strange man appears at Till’s gate and tells Till that he is a Finder and will find Bess. What follows is a fantabulous tale of magic and witches and mysterious goings-on. A detective fairy tale! I was on pins and needles through the whole book! But there is a most glorious ending that finds Till and his “Best in the Whole Wide World Dog” reunited in true bliss!
I am filled with Bliss that Mrs B found this magical book for me! And now here’s a second part to the story – We already had another Philippa Pearce book on our home bookshelf!
The Squirrel Wife
by Philippa Pearce
illustrated by Wayne Anderson
published by Candlewick Press in 2007
This is a lovely, lovely fairy tale about two brothers who are swineherds living at the edge of a deep, dark forest. The forest is inhabited by “the green people”, fairy people who can only be seen by moonlight and who are greatly feared by everyone outside of the forest. But one evening during a storm, the good brother, Jack, heard a voice in the woods crying for help. He could not resist the cry and ventured into the forest where he found a little green man in great distress. Jack helped him back to his family who were so grateful that they rewarded Jack with a magical ring that would bring to Jack a magical wife.
This is a great fairy tale about bravery and doing the right thing. About the rewards of good deeds. About judging and misjudging people without truly knowing who they really are. It’s a picture book with a lot of words. But it’s well worth the read. And the illustrations are beautiful. The story has given me a whole new perspective on all these squirrels that run around the 7 Acre Wood. I am seeing them in a new light.
Both of these books are fairy tales, but not retellings of old tales. They are new tales from the inventive mind of Ms Pearce that take you back to an old time. I think she must have had an old soul.
Find out about the Phillipa Pearce Memorial Lecture HERE.
I’ll sign off with a commercial break —
Take care of the ones that you love —
And NEVER give up on them!
These original fairy tales sound awesome. Who doesn’t love fairy tales? They are happy endings waiting to happen. Once I pulled my head out of my collar like Bess. It was when I was little and much more naughty. Now I wear a Martingale collar, (just in case) so my head can’t come out.
Love and licks,
I think it would be scary to be lost and not know where your human friend is. I was worried for Bess in this story. We use martingales here as well – even though our heads are big!
What a great hook for opening a story. You don’t have a clue what he feels so much despair — a dog. Love it! Something to remember when writing.
That opening sure grabs you for sure!
Checking out A FINDER’S MAGIC from the library now 🙂 And what a sweet commercial!
I hope you enjoy the story. I think you will!
Well no wonder he was despairing! I’m glad it all ends well. Not sure about The Squirrel Wife though – sounds a bit nutty to me (teeheeheehee)
I think that most fairy tales have happy endings. That’s what’s so nice about them. Your worry for a bit and then “hooray!” Even the nutty Squirrel Wife has a sweet ending.
What a lovely back story to A Finders Magic. I am glad that the Finder could help reunite the boy with his best friend.
The back story would make a good front story, I think!
What a great and special review of two enchanting books!!!