Small Persons With Wings, by Ellen Booraem

You'll notice that Small Persons With Wings, by Ellen Booraem (2011, Dial, middle grade, 302 pages) isn't called anything along the lines of Happy Flower Fairies of the Spring. S.P. with W. hate being called Fairies, and will express their displeasure in no uncertain terms.

13 year old Mellie Turpin has experienced this displeasure first hand. Until an ill-advised plan in kindergarten ended it, she shared her life with a S.P. with W.--but although he was willing to make her My Pretty Pony gallop around the room, he didn't want to be a show and tell exhibit. And so he took off, leaving Mellie to deal with the social fall out of having promised to bring a real live fairy to school.

And it was bad fallout; being dubbed "Fairy Fat" was the least of it.

So Mellie isn't unhappy when her grandfather's death means that she and her parents will move to the seaside town where he kept an inn, with plans of fixing the place up and selling it for great profit. Little does she know that the S.P. with W. are about to enter her life in full force, for Mellie's family history is intricately tied to the magic of the fairies. To her surprise, she learns that their magical way of life is under threat....the glamours they have been practicing are sapping their strength. The only way for them to survive is to turn back to an older magic, one based not on illusion but on skill. But there are those who reject that path....and though small, the Small People with Wings are formidable when crossed....and much mayhem results!

Initially I was unsure. Poor Mellie has it hard, and I was afraid that this might be a book where everything goes wrong in unhappy ad nauseum-ness. Happily, although many things did not go smoothly, to say the least, the light and zingy tone of Booraem's story telling kept me pleasantly diverted, and I was reminded of the sort of humour that permeates some of Diana Wynne Jones' books for kids.* And as is sometimes the case with DWJ, the characters here aren't always likable (at times I wanted to shake Mellie), and unpleasant things happen, but the power of the imagination and the verve of story carry the reader along swimmingly.

This is one I'm happy to recommend not only to its intended audience, but to grown-up readers as well. That being said, I'd say the intended audience here is upper middle grade on--it's not all fairy fun and games; Mellie has to cope with years of bullying and years of being taunted for being fat, not to mention having an alcoholic (dead?) grandfather who got turned into a clock. However, Mellie does have well-intentioned and supportive parents, which is a nice change, and she does (slightly unbelievably, given how prickly she is) make friends with a nice boy her own age....

Other thoughts at Eva's Book Addiction, Young Adult Books Central, and a nice long post over at Book Aunt.

And here's an interview with Booraem at Sarah Laurence Blog, and another at The Enchanted Inkpot.

*I'm not alone--Monica over at Educating Alice had the same thought


  1. This one is on my must get list-I know some of my kids will love it!

  2. I've been looking forward to this one since I found out about it; I absolutely loved Booraem's first book, The Unnameables. Good to hear that this one lives up!

  3. Oh yes, I noticed-- and appreciated-- the Diana Wynne Jones-iness of it, too! It feels so fresh and unique.

  4. Thanks for the review. I like a lot of upper middle grade and with put this on my list to read.


Free Blog Counter

Button styles