Marvelous Picture Books: Jethro Byrd, Fairy Child

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Happy Monday, everyone! Before I get into my review of Jethro Byrd, Fairy Child by Bob Graham, I wanted to tell you a little about this weekend’s excitement. The Southern Festival of Books was held in Nashville, and on October 9 members of our class attended the preview screening of Library of the Early Mind at the Nashville Public Library. Library of the Early Mind is a documentary directed by Ted Delaney that explores children’s literature through interviews with various writers and illustrators including Mo Willems, Natalie Babbitt, Brian Pinkney, and more. Following the viewing was a panel discussion with Ted Delaney, Mo Willems, and Jon Scieszka, moderated by our very own Dr. Ann Neely!! The discussion was very entertaining and informative and I was pleasantly surprised by how much they joked around with one another. I would definitely encourage you to seek out and view this film because it will give you a lot of insight on children’s literature and the creators of children’s literature. The film will premier at the Askwith Forum, Harvard University on October 19 and other screenings can be found on the Library of the Early Mind website.

With that said, Happy Viewing and on to the review!

Jethro Byrd, Fairy Child by Bob Graham is a story of a young girl named Annabelle who looks for fairies in her yard until she suddenly finds a families of fairies who fall from the sky in an ice cream truck. She meets a fairy child, Jethro Byrd, and invites him and his family over for tea. Although her parents cannot see the fairies because they are too grown up and “don’t have time for fairies,” her mom makes tea and fairy cakes for the Byrd’s. Annabelle is enchanted by the fairy music made by the family and is very disappointed when the Byrd family must leave to attend the Fairy Travelers’ Picnic. As a token and a thank you, Jethro gives Annabelle a fairy watch telling fairy time that she can wear as a ring; fairy time goes by much slower than human time.
One of the things I like most about this story is that although her parents cannot see the Byrd family of fairies, they do not discourage Annabelle from what she is seeing. While they are not particularly engaged, they do support what she is experiencing. This book would be great for children because it reminds them that while adults may not see the same things as them, imagination and exploration are important. The illustrations are engaging because they vary from cartoon-style reels, full page illustrations, and double page illustrations; the format of the illustrations really add to the quality of the story and fit together seamlessly. The words are also woven into the illustrations meticulously, and the way the text is broken up seems to mimic that of a poem. Further, the font is large and would make a good read aloud, despite being a relatively long story.
The book is recommended for ages 4-7 and is published by Candlewick Press. Jethro Byrd, Fairy Child has won the Kate Greenaway Medal and was chosen as a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year, a Children’s Literature Choice List Title, a Parenting Book of the Year, a Smithsonian Notable Book for children, and a Chicago Public Library Best Book for Children. The story of Jethro Byrd reminds us to keep searching for magic in our backyard and to slow down and go by the fairy time every once and a while. The British version can also be found under the title of Jethro Byrde, Fairy Child.
Happy Reading!
Annalise
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2 responses »

  1. Dr. Neely, what an experience! I'd love a play-by-play of responses to questions, as my second graders are involved in an author study of Mo! Kids everywhere fall in love at first read. I wish I could have been there and am so happy for you to be able to do that!

  2. I wish I had been in town to meet Mo and Jon! Cannot wait to hear more details. Thrilled the discussion was so lively – knew it would be with Dr. Neely leading it!

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