The Fairy Ring by Mary Losure

Fairy RingCindy: Booklist readers know that The Fairy Ring: or Elsie and Frances Fool the World (Candlewick 2012) was named Booklist’s Top of the List 2012 Youth Nonfiction winner. I had read this bizarre little nonfiction book in the fall and couldn’t believe the hoax that these two young girls pulled off, including pulling the wool over the eyes of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle who should have had enough detective sense to ferret out the truth. Like the hoax in Jim Murphy’s The Giant, timing is everything.

“Maybe, these people thought, fairies were just something science didn’t understand yet but would soon. After all, many things seemed like magic if you didn’t understand them. Telegraphs that sent messages through wires! X-rays that could see the bones inside your hand!

To some, it seemed quite likely that a camera could take pictures of fairies. After all, an X-ray could take pictures of things people couldn’t see. Why couldn’t a camera?”

IMG_2483Please read Daniel Kraus’ review to gather more of the details of this story as I want to focus on another element. Near the end of the book (page 161), as the truth behind the paper cut-out fairy hoax is published, Losure reports about articles that were published “in a magazine called The Unexplained: Mysteries of Mind Space & Time.” My middle school librarian brain went immediately to my 031 shelves to a blue encyclopedia set of the same name (H.S. Stuttman 1992). Could it be the same? Sure enough. Volume 5, page 584-601, a series of articles under the IMG_2482heading “Cottingley Fairies.” Fascinating. In addition to some of the photographs that appear in Losure’s book are some of Elsie’s watercolor paintings, a map of the area where the girls “found” and photographed the fairies, the text of a BBC interview with Elsie and other gems. The entry ends with two letters written to the Unexplained Forum with response to the articles published about the fairies. Fans of this unique nonfiction book will want to hunt down this encyclopedia set for the rest of the story.




Visit Perogies & Gyoza for this week’s Nonfiction Monday blog roundup.nonfiction_monday





About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

2 Comments on "The Fairy Ring by Mary Losure"

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  1.' Jen says:

    Thanks so much for participating in Nonfiction Monday.

    It amazes me that these girls fooled such famous people! In this age of photoshop I don’t think people would fall for something similar.

  2.' laurasalas says:

    I have got to read this book! It’s by a local author, and it sounds great. Putting it on reserve right now–thanks for the nudge. And how cool about the encyclopedia entry you remembered!

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