THE WORD ON THE .NET

Writer T. James' Exploration of Words, on the Internet.

Children’s Book Review: Mikolay and Julia Meet the Fairies.

 

BOOK Information: 38 pages, Age: 4+. Written by Magda Olchawska, illustrations by Joanna Gniady. For a free download of the ebook, click here.

Mikolay is a boy who, like a young Harry Potter, can do magic, but isn’t supposed to when he is out of school. Always driven to find an adventure, as he plays with his friend Julia he is irresistibly drawn by the voices in the wardrobe. Reluctantly Julia agrees to investigate, and inside they find fairies, who are hiding in there from a monster which is destroying everything in their homeland. There is no way they can ask their Moms, the witches, to help, so using a crystal ball they travel to the fairies’ homeland to try to get rid of the monster.

Once there they find the monster is a machine, driven by humans, set on destroying the forest for the resources they find there. There is only one choice, Mikolay will have to attempt some advanced magic to banish the humans, protect the fairies and the forest. Will he succeed? Will they get home safely? Will they be eaten by the guard dogs? I recommend reading this charming little adventure to find out…

I often feel the best reviewers of children’s books are children, so I decided to read this to my four-year old son to see what he made of it. Not long after the story started so did the questions. What are fairies wings like? Is Mikolay’s school like mine? Are fairies animals? Where do crystal balls come from? What do witches do? Why are the fairies in the wardrobe (before the story explains)?

These were just a few of the questions he asked, which tells me one thing… the story grabbed him, and held his interest to the end. The story flies from one imagining to the next quite quickly, and his imagination took flight along with it.

I wondered before reading if the story was a little old for him, and he didn’t respond to the environmental message it contained, but the characters, events and places really came alive for him. This was also helped by the colourful and stylised pictures, which he really liked, constantly asking to turn the page to see the next one.

"'I love fairies so much. I would so love to touch one,' whispered Julia in excitement when she saw that inside the wardrobe lots of fairies were hiding. 'You can touch me. But please do not touch my wings, they are very fragile,' replied one fairy. 'I’m Farina, the fairy queen,' she introduced herself."

 

"'Julia, Mikolay, look!' screamed Farina pointing her finger towards the lake from where a group of people with huge dogs emerged."

I think if my son was a little older then the ecological message central to the book, and the ‘Find Out’ family activity suggestions at the end would have got him thinking. As a bedtime story though, it thoroughly engaged him, and he wanted to read it again. My son approves, and a higher recommendation I cannot think of.

 

NOTE: All images and quotations were included with the kind permission of the author, Magda Olchawska, and remain © Copyright of Mayan Books, 2010.

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16 Comments

  1. Wow!! What a good blog TJ. Reviewing a childrens book with your son and his impression. I enjoyed reading this and I’ve never seen or heard of this book before but it looks like a great choice for a kid 4+. I like that it inspired questions from his inquisitive mind. Nic work!! :)

    • Thanks for the comment Pat. My son is bright, and fiercely independent… I wasn’t going to tell him what to think about this story… :) He still talks about it now…

  2. What great questions your son asked. I love his inquiring mind. I too have wondered what fairy wings are like. As for your review, great job with the pics and quotes. It brought the book alive.

  3. Thanks for that TJ, nicely done, I love to read books to my nephews but alas don’t get to see them too often. I think what I might do is copy the text and then send the book through and do an online reading with them. Might be good fun.

    Nice to see the curiosity that marks a writer making its appearance already for you and could be an interesting to develop a book with him.

  4. This sounds like a wonderful story. The illustrations are vivid and delightful, too. Well done, TJ.

  5. The drawings just about killed me, oh so cute. TJ, why don’t you review books more often? I think you have The Touch:)

  6. Great review, TJ!

    Little Brit kids with their adorable accents are the best kind of reviewers out there…I could totally imagine his cute voice in my head!

  7. Great review. I’m going to have to read it to find out what happens now!

    I have a five (nearly six) yo nephew who likes stories. Last Christmas when he was nearly five, he wrote and illustrated a story about an adventure with dragons and his parents copied it and gave copies to all of his relatives and friends. I want to encourage him to keep it up. You know, catch em when they’re young and all that!

    It’s sometimes hard to find kids books which don’t patronise children and I prefer to give books as gifts that are written to a good standard with a kid friendly storyline, rather than “for kids”. This sounds like a good example.

    • Thanks for the kind comment Chrissey, I think it is one of ‘those’ books. I love the idea of a parent and child writing together, and sharing their story with their whole family, and friends. Will mine will be that way inclined in a year’s time? It seems unlikely but we can only hope :)

  8. Great review. I love when the kids get so into books :)

    • Me too… Our son’s interest in books seems to wax and wane with his mood, but I really enjoy being able to share stories with him, when he’s able concentrate.

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