Monday, December 25, 2017

The Fairy Doll by Rumer Godden

"She was six inches high and dressed in a white gauze dress with beads that sparkled; she had silver wings, and a arrow silver crown on her dark hair, with a glass dewdrop in front that sparkled too; in one of her hands she had a silver wand, 
and her her feet were silver shoes"  stitched by fairies.

This is the cover of my old copy given to me by a family friend when I was in Kindergarten.

This is the new cover left for me to read today.

There are lots of reasons to talk about The Fairy Doll today!

  • YES it is really Christmas Day
  • YES this is a Christmas book  - a perfect one to read aloud to a young child
  • YES this book was put on the bedside table by a friend because I am house/cat sitting for her over the Christmas season - she left me The Story of Holly and Ivy too!
  • YES I did read this book as a child
  • YES I adore Rumer Godden

Another connection with this book - there is an online petition circulating at the moment because Oxford have removed some words from their junior dictionary.  I imagine there are lots of words in this book that Oxford would dismiss as too old but sure that adds to the charm of the story and also allows a modern child to gain a little insight into family life and Christmas celebrations of the past - and this past is really not so long ago.  The Fairy Doll is only a little older than me! 

Little Elizabeth is just that, little.  She is too little to join in with her brother and sister's games, she is too little to ride a 'proper' bicycle and she is too little to put high decorations on the Christmas tree.  No one seems to be on her side until the visit by Great Grandmother - a woman of magic and understanding.  Elizabeth keeps the Fairy Doll from the Christmas tree long after all the decorations have been put away for another year.  Elizabeth then spends the whole year creating a magical home for the fairy doll using her bicycle basket and moss. Each time she 'forgets' something she hears a ting and magically knows the answer to a school problem, or remembers the complex shopping list and even conquers her new bicycle.

Back to those special words I mentioned earlier. Nearly of these would be unfamiliar to an Australian child but knowing about them surely adds a special richness to our lives.


I thrilled to find some of the original illustrations by US illustrator Adrienne Adams.  She illustrated more than 30 books including several by Rumer Godden.

"There were toadstools for stools ... on the table were acorn cups and bowls and small leaf plates. Over the writing desk was a piece of dried-out honeycomb; it was exactly like the rack of pigeonholes over her fathers desk. Fairy Doll could keep her letters there."

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