Gr 5-7 After burning her hands while trying to prevent her mother from destroying her late father's manuscripts, Franny Morrow is sent to live with her grandmother in Massachusetts while her mother and maternal grandparents spend the summer in Europe. Grandmother Morrow, an enthusiastic gardener and naturalist, remains distant from her granddaughter, who finds companionship with Ida, her grandmother's maid. But the most important figures in Franny's life are King Tamarack, Queen Iris, and Princess Meadowsweet, the fairies who were the main characters in her father's stories and who have become real to her after his death. Franny is determined to help them find the kingfisher's gift, the magic feather that will enable Meadowsweet, a water sprite changeling, to fly like her parents. A crisis leads to the destruction of the feather, Franny's questioning the fairies' existence, and the revelation of secrets about Ida's and Grandmother Morrow's pasts, ultimately bringing Franny to accept her father's death and the presence of magic, both human and fairy, in life. This moving story is marred by the conflicting information about Franny's father's awareness of the fairies' existence. Details bring the child, the other characters, and the early 1900s setting to life, creating a well-plotted story that unfolds clearly from its opening to Franny's ultimate reconciliation with her mother. While not an essential purchase, the story will appeal to young readers looking to find magic in their own lives. -Beth L. Meister, Queens Borough Public Library, Flushing, NY Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Beckhorn (In the Morning of the World, not reviewed) gives the heartstrings a real workout in a tale replete with characters nursing private grief. Six months after her beloved father's death, and with her mother off to a European rest cure in the wake of a nervous breakdown, 12-year-old Franny arrives at her Grandma Morrow's country house. She's deep in denial, accompanied by the fairies of her father's tales (visible only to her), and bearing severe burns she got while attempting to rescue those stories after her mother pitched them into a fire. It soon becomes obvious that Grandmother, the widowed chauffeur Henry, and the Irish maid Ida all have sad secrets-which come out in a climactic rush after Franny's discovery of a display of mounted, all-too-fairy-like luna moths shatters her fragile composure. Ida's admission of a baby given up for adoption prompts Grandma Morrow, who has a similar experience in her own past, to rush out to reclaim it; she returns with a foundling, which she presents to Ida as hers. It isn't, but only Franny, her grandma, and Henry, who is in love with Ida, know the truth. This rather cavalier deception doesn't bear much examination, but there are tender and tearful moments aplenty here. Franny and her mother are reconciled by the end, and though, unlike the Little Folk in Janet Taylor Lisle's Afternoon of the Elves (1989), Franny's fairies put in repeat appearances, and readers are still left with the option of believing that they're real-or not. (Fiction. 11-13)