The Wilderness Fairies: Daisy’s Quest by Jodie Wells-Slowgrove, illustrated by Kerry Millard (Puffin Books) PB RRP $9.99 ISBN 9780143307471
Reviewed by Dianne Bates
As a child aged 7 to 9 years I would have read this book and taken it to bed with me every night. And, too, my imagination fired, I would have gone into the bush time and again looking for the Fairy Wilderness in hopes of catching sight of Daisy.
Daisy at the start of this book series, of special appeal to girls, is a wingless fairy waiting for the Fairy Queen to grant her wings. Her older sister Maggie has wings and a Calling (she is musically gifted); Mum’s Calling is horticulture and Dad’s is healing. Armed with her magical wand and travelling shoes, Daisy now goes with her special friend, the beetle Vu, on the quest for her wings. She has numerous encounters along the way, first with a Monarch butterfly that leaves her a Telling Tube which is opened by a Painted Lady butterfly following advice given to her by Pea, an awkward winged fairy.
Next, Daisy faces danger when she is trapped under water by waterlily pads, but once again she is helped by nature in the form of a water nymph. The persistent and brave Daisy goes on, but in her final struggle to succeed, she uses kindness which in effect results in spoiling her whole mission. Eventually the hapless fairy child meets Queen Jasmine. But although she failed the task, does Daisy still get rewarded for her courage, persistence and kindness?
This is book full of exciting, fast-paced adventure with frequent cliff-hangers. It is also full of magic and secrets, peopled by characters who are genuine, three-dimensional fairies that one cares about. Daisy faces disappointment and frustration, but she remains full of hope and joy. At the front of the book is something many children love – a map showing places where action happens and where people in the story live. During her quest the reader can consult the map as she ventures with Daisy into the Australian wilderness which is full of familiar – and not so familiar – flora and fauna.
The end of the book offers interesting notes for the reader – in this case how Daisy gets her name (from the Golden Everlasting or Paper Daisy), also how to make Lemon Myrtle Cordial (featured in the story), and about the endangered beetle for which Vu is named.
It is so good to see a book about fairies that young readers can engage with and who are Australian to boot. Most readers of this first book in the series will be hanging out for the next – will Daisy successfully learn how to fly? Highly recommended.