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Being able to shrink down and fly:
It’s a fact well-known by little sisters everywhere, that if you sister doesn’t want you around, it is because she is either a) doing something really cool and thinks you’ll ruin it, or b) doing something she shouldn’t. My sister, Lucinda, had made this big deal about how she couldn’t be disturbed because she was working on a school project, but it didn’t seem to me that homework was her focus. She just didn’t want me around.
My sister had invited over Evan, who was a year ahead of her in school, to help with a project. Of course it wasn’t any type of normal school project. My family are fairies, fairy godmothers to be exact. I didn’t always fit in because I’m more interested in humdrums—aka humans—than magic. I’d even convinced my parents to send me to Riverside Elementary School where I made a humdrum best friend. I might not be as interested in magic as my sister, but even I knew Lucinda wasn’t that interested in getting an A in her potions class. Evan might be good with potions, but I was pretty sure the real reason my sister wanted him to come over was because he was the cutest fairy at Cottingley Fairy Academy. He had dark curly hair that always seemed just a little too long, so he always had to push it out of his eyes. He had this way of smiling where his mouth curved up on one side and his left eye closed a bit like he was winking at you. As soon as he arrived, Lucinda had dragged him into the living room and made my mom promise that Katie and I wouldn’t be allowed in because they had to work to do.
This was totally unfair because you could tell that Evan wanted to talk to Katie and me. Almost everyone in the fairy community was fascinated to find out I had a real, live, humdrum friend. For centuries fairies have lived secretly among humdrums. I was supposed to keep the fact I was a fairy a secret in my humdrum school, but my friend Katie had figured it out. Katie wants to be a detective. And an astronaut. And to win an Olympic gold medal for gymnastics. My best friend is very talented.
She’s also nosy. Katie had noticed there were a lot of things about my family and me that didn’t make sense. Like the fact I had conversations with my dog. Of course she could only hear my side, but Winston and I had full conversations, although sometimes he did a lot more talking at me than with me. She thought we might be spies, but when she found out the truth about us being magical she decided that was even cooler. Some fairies were worried that humdrums wouldn’t be able to cope with knowing that fairies really existed, but Katie jumped right in and helped me grant my first wish. She wasn’t even freaked out by the Tooth Fairy, and trust me, a tooth fairy can be a bit intimidating.
There was something else special about having Katie as a best friend. Once Katie knew that I was a fairy, things started to change. I started to change. My grandma thought it had something to do with having humdrums believe in magic again. She thought maybe we need someone to believe in us in order to keep our magical abilities strong. Fairies can do all kinds of magic spells, but we each have only one special magic talent. Mine is talking to animals, which—I don’t want to brag or anything, but—is pretty cool.
The weird thing was that once Katie knew I was a fairy I got a second magical ability. I could fly. To be technical about it, I floated first, and I didn’t have any control over it. It just happened—and in the middle of a humdrum wedding, too. I quickly learned how to control it, because shrinking down to the size of a bug and flying around like a giant bumblebee isn’t something you want to do willy-nilly. If I wanted to fly all I had to do was concentrate on the idea and think light thoughts. It felt funny, sort of tingly, but shrinking down didn’t hurt, and being able to stretch out the tiny wings hidden under my shoulder blades felt great. (If you don’t stretch them every so often they can cramp.) I couldn’t keep the fact that I was flying secret from my parents. They might not have realized I was floating as long as I stayed pretty close to the ground, but when I started shrinking down like a sparkling, glowing firefly they were bound to notice.
Once my parents knew I could fly, they wanted to know how I came to be the first fairy who had two magical powers. I had to tell them about Katie. This past week my parents and grandma had been going to meetings with the Fairy Council. Everyone was trying to figure out what it meant that our secret was out. There was now a humdrum who knew there were fairies. My sister didn’t spend her time worrying about how our whole society might change. She spent the past week talking about how it wasn’t fair that I could fly since that was her thing. (As if she invented flying!) I spent my week trying to figure out the tricks of flying, like how to keep from bumping into the walls. Once I sneezed midflight and shot all the way across the room like a rocket. Turns out flying is more complicated than it looks.
So even though my sister said Evan came by to help with her homework, I knew it was likely he came to see Katie and me. After all, knowing a humdrum is a pretty big deal. My mom caught us staring out through the railing of the staircase into the living room trying to get a view of Evan. She shooed us back to my room, saying they needed their privacy. I tried pointing out that we weren’t in the living room, or bothering them, but she still made us leave.
Katie flopped across my bed, nearly landing on my dog, Winston, who had been sleeping under the covers. “I want to visit the Fairy Academy if there are boys who look like that!”
“You should see Evan play draolo. He’s amazing,” I said.
“What’s that?” Katie asked, sitting up and scratching Winston’s ears.
“Draolo. It’s like polo only with dragons.” Katie’s eyes grew wide, so I went on to explain so she wouldn’t have the wrong idea. “They’re not huge dragons or anything. They’re raised for the game, sort of horse-size, but they can snort fire and fly.”
“That is so cool. I would love to own a pet dragon,” Katie said.
Winston rolled over so Katie could rub his belly. “Pfft, why would anyone want a dragon as a pet when they could have a dog?” he asked. “Dogs are superior creatures in almost every way.”
Since I was the one who could communicate with animals I had to translate for Katie. “Winston thinks you’re better off with a dog. He’s a bit of a dog snob, but he is right about this. Dragons are okay, but they aren’t housebroken and they can be kind of smelly,” I warned Katie.
“Still, it’s a dragon. I bet Evan looks really cute riding one.” Katie sighed, and then perked up. “Maybe we should make up a plate of your mom’s cookies and bring them to Evan and your sister. Doing homework can make someone pretty hungry. Giving people food isn’t bugging them, it’s being polite.”
“It is polite, but my sister will freak out and say we’re doing it just to spy on her,” I explained. Katie looked annoyed. I had tried to tell her before how lucky she was to be an only child. Now she was starting to understand what a pain older sisters could be.
“Do you think Evan likes your sister?”
I scrunched up my eyebrows while I thought about it. It was possible. I wasn’t exactly an expert on boys. Everyone kept telling me that Nathan Filler in my class liked me because he would tease me and throw the fries from his hot lunch at me. It didn’t make sense to me, but humdrum boys are complicated. My sister, despite her many flaws, was pretty. Plus, she tended to keep her really evil behavior directed at me. She was usually quite nice to other people. “He might like her. He doesn’t have to help with her potion homework. He must be doing it for a reason.”
“I wonder what they’re talking about?” Katie asked.
“I bet they’re talking about us,” I said. “It’s a really big deal to other fairies that we’re friends.”
“Don’t you want to know what he thinks? We could send Winston down to listen to their conversation and then come back and tell us what he said,” Katie suggested.
“I beg your pardon! I have no intention of getting involved in some sort of boy-crazy spy mission.” Winston rolled over so he could stand.
“We could give him some bologna to make it worth his time.” Katie might not be able to understand Winston the same way that I did, but she was a pretty good at knowing what made him tick.
Winston’s head cocked over to the side. “Bologna? Now, maybe I was being a bit hasty when I said I wouldn’t do it. I would consider simply strolling downstairs, and if I happened to overhear a discussion, there certainly isn’t anything sneaky about sharing the details.” Winston’s tongue fell out of his mouth as he started thinking about a giant mound of bologna slices.
“Easy, my canine James Bond.” I turned to Katie. “This plan won’t work. Lucinda knows I can communicate with Winston. No way she would let him wander into the room, plop down, and listen. She’d kick him out of the living room so fast all we would see would be a furry black blur.”
The three of us were silent while we tried to think of a plan that would work.
“You could still get me some bologna. I think better with processed meat snacks.” Winston turned in a circle to mat the bedspread into a comfy pile and then flopped down with his head on his paws.
“What I wouldn’t give to be a fly on the wall,” Katie said.
Katie and I both looked over at each other at the same second and squealed. It was a perfect plan.
© 2011 Eileen Cook
Posted December 11, 2011
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Posted March 15, 2012
I love this entire series. Its the perfect gift for girl (and boys) who love to read. The humor and writing style are captivating, making read aloud sessions a good time for both adults and children. I really wish they would make plushies of the gnome and dog and all the wonderful zany characters Cook brings to life. Just perfect.
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