Fairy Dust

Read by: Sophie Ward
BBC Audio
RRP: 9.99
ISBN 1846 070813
Available 03 April 2006

Rosie has moved to Scotland with her mother, her father is absent and her mother is reluctant to explain the real reasons why. Rosie has a problem with her mother, in that her mother does not believe that fairies exist, but the sock she finds at the bottom of her bed shows that they really do...

Fairy Dust is written by Gwyneth Rees, who's first children's novel Something Secret was published in 1995. Since then she has published a number of other books for children, most notable being her Mermaid series aimed at the 9-11 year old market. Fairy Dust was an Ottakers book of the month. As a critic, I usually check out author's homepages, normally it's a whole bunch about themselves and more than a little dull. Gwyneth is obviously a children's author par excellence, her web page is not only child friendly but has a load of stuff for kids to do, games, competitions, she even replies to their e-mails, how cool is that when your seven, in fact it's so good here is the website:

The basic premise of a family without the presence of a father figure has a long tradition in children's fiction - The Railway Children probably being the most famous. However, this is not a tale of woe and heartbreak. Rosie is right fairies really do exist, though some of them are not what you would expect as her first encounter with the grumpy male fairy shows.

This is a tale that will delight its target audience of seven year old girls. I would have said children but from my own memory I think I was moving away from believing in such things at that age and getting into torturing my Action Man.

My only concern is that audio books like this will make parents lazy about interacting with their kids, reading them to sleep. I remember with great delight spending many months reading the whole of The Lord of the Rings to my four year old daughter, of course I had to keep waking her up so that it didn't take too long to read. How I remember, her sweet little bloodshot eyes at three in the morning looking up at me pleading me to continue. I would have continued to the Silmarillion but social services told me to knock it on the head. Of course, at a running time of two hours and thirty minutes if you get them into bed early enough they may just be fit enough to go to school the next day.

The story is read well by Sophie Ward, who you Sci-fi geeks will know played Rosemary in Dinotopia - though she's been consistently working in television and film since the mid seventies.

So there you have it, a heart warming tale of a girl who was right. Good for all car journeys to keep the little monsters silent. I have to admit to liking it a lot as an adult, so maybe it's something that we can share with our kids.

Charles Packer

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