The Fairy-who-wouldn’t-fly loved to lie about all day in her hammock amid the swaying blossoms.
She listened to the wind and watched the clouds sailing high overhead. She watched the bees gathering honey, and the birds sipping nectar from the flowers. When she folded her wings and closed her eyes, she looked just like a dried leaf, so no one could see her.
The other fairies, their bright, beautiful wings flashing in the sunlight, worked hard in the bush. They lifted up the heads of flowers after rain, helped lame beetles over bush tracks, and saved silly baby birds who fell out of their nests before they were ready to fly. They helped to keep the bushland and all its creatures healthy and strong.
The Fairy Who Wouldn’t Fly is a retelling of a 1945 Pixie O’Harris story, which incorporates her original illustrations and includes additional images from the National Library of Australia’s collection. This young fairy prefers to sit and think about her world. She wonders where the wind came from, how seeds knew what kind of flower to become, why she hadn’t seen the Leaf-cutter Bee for so long. But the Fairy Queen considers her lazy and sends her to the Woodn’t to be with other creatures who don’t do as they ought. There she meets an assortment of creatures, all banished. She finds herself becoming as grumpy as they are before discovering the talent of each in the rescue of a little lost boy. They want to return home but don’t want to be compelled to behave in ways that feel wrong to them. News of their adventure wins a reprieve from the Fairy Queen and they return home. Brave Fairy asks the Queen to accept their differences and allow them to be themselves, before asking for a final favour.
Bronwyn Davies says The Fairy Who Wouldn’t Fly was her favourite book when she was a child. Here she written her own version of the story and kept the original illustrations. In place of the original ending, where Fairy returns to Fairyland compliant, Davies offers a celebration of difference and acceptance of those who might sometimes be less easy to understand. The Fairy Who Wouldn’t Fly is a rich collection of art, both the original and extras, and a story sure to delight fairy-fans. Additional images are fully referenced in the final pages. It’s a fabulous way to share NLA art and entice young visitors and artists. This is a sumptuous hardcover sure to win many new fans to a well-loved story.
The Fairy Who Wouldn’t Fly, retold by Bronwyn Davies NLA Publishing 2014 ISBN: 9780642278517
review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller