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Jethro Byrd, Fairy Child


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About the Author

Bob Graham is the award-winning author and illustrator of many books for children, including MAX, an acclaimed story about a family of superheroes who can fly. About JETHRO BYRD, FAIRY CHILD, he says, "I'm surprised to find another flying family in my books, this time a family of fairies. I don't see fairies too often these days, certainly not during working hours. To see fairies you need time to spare, time to think about not too much at all."


Combining the humorous, the magical and the mundane, Graham (Max; Benny) creates another warm, sweet-natured picture book. As Annabelle plays alongside the fence near her family's apartment building, she hears something bounce down from the sky. Upon investigation, Annabelle meets Jethro Byrd, a boy as big as her finger, and his family, all of whom happen to be fairies. Annabelle invites the Byrds to tea, with the full support of her parents. As the Byrds enjoy cakes and chamomile tea and entertain with song and dance, Annabelle and her brother, Baby Sam, are delighted; their mother and father oblivious. The parents earnestly pretend to see the Byrds, but, as one fairy tells Annabelle, grown-ups [don't] have time for fairies. Graham's not-too-subtle message about slowing down to enjoy the small wonders of life will resonate with children and adults alike. His ink-and-watercolor paintings easily shift from human to fairy scale and back. The winged Byrds, wearing contemporary clothes and traveling in a flying ice-cream truck, suggest a wide and welcoming fantasy world. Ages 4-7. (June) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

K-Gr 2-A girl spends all of her free time searching for fairies in the scraggly grass and dirt that line the concrete path of her family's urban home. Like most adults, "Annabelle's dad had little time for fairies. 'you won't find fairies in cement and weeds-as far as I know.'" Yet on a warm summer day, the child sees something hit the fence and bounce off the driveway. "There she met a boy-as big as her finger. He hitched up his jeans, flew onto a leaf, and wiped his nose on the back of his sleeve. '[I'm] Jethro Jethro Byrd I'm a Fairy Child.'" Much to Annabelle's delight, Jethro and his family agree to stay for some tea and cake. Her mother plays along, and agrees to make some tea for her guests, even though she and her husband cannot see them. After tea, the fairies must move on, but Annabelle is changed by the meeting. Graham's charming watercolor-and-ink artwork has muted shadows and an affectionate softness that complement the magical undertones of the story. One spread shows a crouching Annabelle, grand and gargantuan, holding Jethro's father on her pinky, while Jethro, his mother, and grandmother flit about nearby. Pair this with Hans Christian Andersen's "Thumbelina," or use it to introduce John Peterson's "The Littles" (Scholastic) to a new generation of fairy seekers.-Lisa Gangemi Kropp, Middle Country Public Library, Centereach, NY Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

Annabelle finds Jethro on the service station side of her apartment block's back fence after he and his family have crash-landed in their fast food van. She has been looking out for fairies and can't believe her luck. She invites them to tea and her mum and dad join what they think is a charming fantasy. After chamomile tea, fairy cakes and a concert, the small guests continue on their way to the Fairy Travellers' Picnic, strewing wild flowers from the van's exhaust in their wake. The fairy's parting gift is a tiny watch that just fits Annabelle's finger. It runs on fairy time, the sort of slowness that has enabled the little girl to see fairies in her city world of cement and weeds. Computer key-tapping Dad (writing a novel perhaps?) and Mum relaxing with a book work to adult time so can't see the fairies, although both, especially Mum, appear attentive and loving. Graham has raised the bar here on parent involvement! The lyrical biblical front quote about entertaining angels unawares skews, or at least limits, the meanings to be drawn from this wonderful picture book which shows, once again, the extraordinary virtuosity of this artist and writer. Young children will delight in this tale about the possibility of magic in any setting, while adults may ponder Graham's pointed message about being fully open to creativity. Kerry White is compiling Australian Children's Books, a Bibliography Volume 3 and is a major contributor to The Source. C. 2002 Thorpe-Bowker and contributors

Graham's not-too-subtle message about slowing down to enjoy the small wonders of life will resonate with children and adults alike."

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