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Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
We are never too young or too old to enjoy a good fairy tale, to learn the possible messages they convey and to just savor the feel-good aspects of the happily-ever-after. When the tree fairies are assigned their individual trees to nurture and protect, there is a bustle of activity and excitement. The fairies go out every morning and many return with treasures from their tree, like a pine cone, or a blossom, to share the wonders that burst into life at the end of the long, dormant winter season. But Naida is assigned a very special tree, a catalpa tree, a late bloomer, one that looks dead for such a long time. The other fairies start to tease Naida, telling her that the catalpa tree is dead, but, discouraged though she is, Naida doesn’t give up. Instead, she shares more positive energy with her tree and she is justly rewarded with a brilliantly unique and beautiful tree when it finally does come to life. Naida has learned and nurtured the art of patience, while all the fairies have learned about many different species of trees.
The Catalpa Tree Fairy is only one of the fairy tales in Jennifer P. Tanabe’s The Catalpa Tree Fairy and Other Stories. Written in the age-old form of a classic fairy tale, a fable, a parable, this collection expertly combines magic and fantasy and reality to both teach and entertain. There’s a young boy who finds his only friend in a beautiful songbird, a young mermaid who wants to sing, and so much more. These stories are well constructed with fantastical plot lines and vividly creative imagination. Each story stands on its own and shares its message with art and clarity. These stories would appeal particularly to the preteen and young adult reading age group, but can also be read to younger children. A wonderful and inspiring assortment of magic and fantasy.