Philippa Fisher and the Stone Fairy's Promise by Liz Kessler
|Philippa Fisher and the Stone Fairy's Promise by Liz Kessler|
|Genre: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Linda Lawlor|
|Summary: A warm and magical tale which will appeal to any young girl who understands the true value of friendship. Liz Kessler popped into Bookbag Towers to chat to us.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 224||Date: June 2010|
|Publisher: Orion Children's Books|
In the third book of this enchanting series Liz Kessler manages to show both the delights and the sorrows of friendship: a topic which is eternally popular with young (and not so young) readers. Philippa has travelled with her father and mother to Ravenleigh to spend New Year with her new friend Robyn. But she has only just arrived when disaster strikes. Daisy, her other best friend and fairy godsister (like a fairy godmother but the same age as you), realises Philippa's mother is in danger, and tries to help. But in order to do so she has to break a lot of rules, and a series of catastrophes means Philippa ends up with Daisy in ATC (Above The Clouds), a sector of the fairy world. And the other fairies don't realise who she is ...
Philippa, Daisy and Robyn and their companions have to go through some very difficult times to make sure everything turns out well in the end, and for more than one of them it means accepting a terrible sacrifice. This is not a tale where the fairy fixes things with a wave of her wand: it takes real hard effort, and a few tears are shed along the way. Liz Kessler is making it clear: friendship is wonderful, but it comes at a price.
Another aspect of friendship is explored in this book, and in fact precipitates the crisis. Tommy, who lives in Ravenleigh, is bullied at school, and in his efforts to prove he is not a wimp, he takes the amber which guards the stone circle, only to disappear into an eerie world where time stands still. Unfortunately this same stone circle is a portal to the fairy world, and if the amber is not returned, the human world cannot be helped any more by the fairies and will eventually slide into chaos and destruction. It is a measure of Tommy's distress that even though he is cold, lonely and frightened in the timeless place, he actually hesitates to return to the real world, which to him means only bullying and unhappiness. But readers can feel reassured: the bully gets his comeuppance in a most satisfying way.
The magical world in this book has many of the traditional components of the genre: fairies fly, open invisible doors in walls, and change their shape at will. But it is also firmly grounded in a setting reminiscent of twenty-first century Britain: the fairies work in an office, and use mobile phones and computers. Unlike humans, though, when they talk to their computers (and after all, who doesn't?) the computers actually talk back.
Gender issues are not stressed in this book, but it is nice to see the traditional format turned on its head: the girls rescue the boy, albeit with a small contribution on his part. The language in the book is clear and simple, and the dialogue is authentic and lively; enough description is given to enable the reader to envisage the different places Philippa and her friends visit without slowing down the plot. The varying points of view are easily identified through the useful device of a different font for each person. And one subtle and original touch is particularly pleasing: Robyn never gets to see the magical world, and is not even allowed to know the details of Philippa and Daisy's mission. But she accepts this with good grace, and proves herself as loyal as her friends in her efforts to avert the disaster.
The use of abbreviations like ATC (Above The Clouds) and SRB (Something Really Bad) is a little irritating, and adds nothing to the story, but it is a minor point and one which will not prevent enjoyment of the story. After all, which girl wouldn't be enthralled by the very idea of being able to fly, simply by thinking about it?
Many thanks to Orion for generously sending us this book.
Further reading suggestion: Fans of Liz Kessler will enjoy reading her other books, especially Philippa Fisher and the Dream Maker's Daughter.
Liz Kessler was kind enough to be interviewed by Bookbag.
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