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.