Monday, September 10, 2012

A Wish in the Woods (Faerieground bk #1) by Beth Bracken and Kay Fraser

Reading in a second or third language is hard business at best. Heck, I can't even speak in a different language and I've been overseas for 8 years. It is a beautiful thing to behold when all those languages click into the proper gears and students are able to read fluently. In the meantime, try and find a fifth grader who is reading at a Henry and Mudge level a book that interests him or her. I have toiled in the stacks many an hour hunting for high interest, low vocabulary books. Behold, I felt like I had discovered an agate on the shore of Lake Superior when I stumbled upon Stone Arch publishers that targets this type of reader. Fairies never seem to lose their appeal from year-to-year and this one delivers a tense tale.

Soli and Lucy are best friends who have done everything together for more than ten years. They've walked through the Willow Forest together to school and while Lucy knows that fairies live there, Soli doesn't or doesn't believe the rumors. Soli is quiet and shy while Lucy is bold and bouncy. When Soli wants to meet a guy, Lucy decides to help out and talk to him. The two end up  being attracted to each other and kiss. Soli is so mad that she wishes Lucy would disappear. Her wish comes true on faerieground and Lucy finds herself in an alternate world with creepy fairies who are scarier than she thought they would be.

The two girls struggle with jealousy. Lucy thinks her mom gives Lucy so much attention that she loves her more than herself. Soli thinks Lucy is beautiful and outgoing - like a light being turned on. Lucy struggles with wanting other friends besides Soli. Sometimes she's tired of them doing everything together. Soli struggles with feelings of betrayal when Lucy kisses the boy she likes.

There is plenty of white space between lines and text that isn't going to overwhelm the reader. The illustrations are beautiful in watercolor and have a dreamy quality that suits the plot. Each chapter alternates from Lucy or Soli's point of view. If fragment sentences drive you crazy, there are some. I personally like fragments and how they add rhythm and impact to text and the sections that have it do just that. The simple text is accessible for all with interesting characters and a tense plot. These books will probably interest girls more than boys. 

All of the books make a complete story. In the next book you find out why Soli is in the shadows and the fairies show up. The first book is more realistic and the fairies don't appear until the end. The next book is more of a mystery or quest to free Lucy and the theme of betrayal continued. In the third book, Soli must be brave and change. The fairie queen's plot thickens, stakes get higher, and tension mounts. The illustrations are quite striking in the third book.  Make sure you have all the books in the series because all the endings are cliffhangers - except the last book. Then it does truly end. It's really one book broken into 4 books. The last book has some interesting twists. One of those some might find confusing. Read page 82 carefully for Lucy's reaction to Soli.  Fairieground is like no book that I've ever read and is a terrific addition to your library.

Reading Level 2.7
4 out of 5 Smileys

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