The Night Fairy by Laura Amy Schlitz

While enjoying Snowzilla, the blizzard that blanketed the mid-Atlantic region this week, I wanted to read a sweet book.  Something fun, happy, and light.  While looking through my TBR pile, my eyes landed on the stunning cover of Laura Amy Schlitz’s new novel, The Night Fairy. I knew immediately that it was exactly the book and story I was looking for. And I was right.

Lyrical prose, stunning full-color artwork, and a fantastic fairy with spunk combine in this winning novel. Flory is a night fairy, born just before midnight. When she is not yet three months old, a bat accidentally breaks her wing. Suddenly sentenced to a life without flight, Flory is devastated. She makes her way to a “giant’s” garden, an older human woman. In the garden she finds a birdhouse, which she makes into her home. No taller than an acorn, Flory is all alone. She is forced to become a day fairy and must keep herself safe from birds, praying mantises, and other fairy predators. But in the end, this is a story of strength and friendship- Flory is stronger than she gives herself credit and she also needs more help than she is willing to admit.

This stunning middle grade novel is sure to be a hit with fairy lovers, nature lovers, and those who love to use their imagination. The prose is stunning and lyrical. And while it may sound like a simple fairy tale on the surface, you quickly realize that Flory is a strong female character. One minute she is fighting off predators, the next she is decorating her home. Later she might be saving the life of a hummingbird while risking her own, and then spending time gazing at the moon. She is beauty, strength, innocence, and love rolled into one very small, acorn-sized package. I imagine this will be the perfect book for girls who love fairy books but desire something a little deeper than the trendy, novelty books so often published. It will also make the perfect bedtime story. I’d recommend it for 9-10 year olds, but I also know a lot of my own 6th graders will love this book. I’d be thrilled to hand it to them because the writing is just gorgeous.

*ARC courtesy of the publisher


Laura Amy Schlitz

A few weeks ago I had the honor of hearing Laura Amy Schlitz speak about her Newbery win for Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village (out in paperback on December 23).  WOW!  If you have the opportunity to meet Ms. Schlitz or hear her speak, you must must must do it!  

Ms. Schlitz began her presentation by walking onto the “stage”, removing her shoes, and performing Giles’, the beggar’s, monologue from her Newbery-winning book.  Man, can that woman act!  She had the room full of librarians and teachers rolling in the aisles.  Her students are so lucky to have her.

She then spent the rest of her presentation talking about her writing career and the pinnacle- her Newbery win.  I was shocked to find that she had written a novel under a pseudonym in 1990.  She then assumed she could get anything published, and proceeded to write her dream novel, a huge tome of historical fiction; The Nightingale’s Cage, 700 pages.  Sadly, it never found a publisher.  During this time, she wrote the monologues for Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village in 1996 while waiting to hear back from publishers about her dream novel.  The monologues were written for her students and never intended for a wider audience,  When her dream novel was rejected over and over, she gave up on the publishing industry.  She especially knew that no one was interested in a childern’s book about medieval times told in dramatic verse.  

Inevitably, she was told year after year that the childrens’ performances were wonderful and that she should really try to get the monologues published.  When she finally decided to send out the manuscript, it was only to prove everyone wrong.  That way she would be able to say, “See, no one wants it”.  So, she sent out 11 copies to various publisher (which she named) and was stunned to receive an acceptance email from Candlewick.  She then imitated her reaction, which included bounding down the school hallways due to excitement!  Of course, it took years for the book to come out, and in the meantime she published other novels.  But when the book was published, and Newbery buzz started building, she honestly did want to win the award and woke up at 4am the morning of, hoping for a phone call!

Laura Amy Schlitz was a phenomenal speaker and I can not recommend her enough.  Her honest description of winning Newbery was refreshing and thrilling to experience vicariously through her.  Her performance of Giles’ monologue was flawless and full of laughs.  And she was extremely sweet when she held the book signing at lunch later that day.

Busy, Busy, Busy!

Reading, writing lesson plans, and generally staying busy.  But I am THRILLED to say that I will be hearing Laura Amy Schlitz speak in November!!