Why I Don’t Hate the Rainbow Fairies

Fairyland is home to seven colorful sisters. Together, they are the Rainbow Fairies! They keep Fairyland dazzling and bright. But when evil Jack Frost sends them far away, the sisters are in big trouble. If they don’t return soon, Fairyland is doomed to be gray forever!      (blurb for the first series-of-7, The Rainbow Fairies)

The Rainbow Magic books are an addictive, seemingly endless series of early chapter books, written to a precise and repetitive formula, and certain to drive parents up the wall. Amazingly bland and devoid of character development – the two heroines are interchangeable – this franchise should incur my wrath and derision. And it did, at first.



Father Christmas


Father Christmas

by Raymond Briggs

Hamish Hamilton, 1973

28 pp.

Age: 5+

Interests: Christmas, Santa Claus, winter, comic books/graphic novels

Also by this author: Father Christmas Goes on Holiday, The Snowman, The Mother Goose Treasury, Ug: Boy Genius of the Stone Age and his Search for Soft Trousers


Annie Get Your Gun (1950)

Annie Get Your Gun

Colour, Musical

Released: 1950

Rated: Approved (G)

Length: 107 min

Age: 4+  (5 or 6 for fuller comprehension)   (commonsense media sez 6+)

Scary Factor: nothing scary

Violence: a lot of guns, naturally, but all used for target shooting; only one re-enactment of an Indian attack, make sure kids understand it’s all a big circus act and nobody is really being shot; Frank gets mad at one point and punches somebody, but it’s a rather isolated event

Other: racial insensitivity, depicting Native Americans as uncivilized for comic purposes; lots of “ugh’ and “how”-type dialogue

Interests: famous women, history, cowboys, Wild West, circus/theatrical, musicals

Next: for girl cowboys see Annie Oakley (1935), Calamity Jane (1953); for Wild West musicals see Calamity Jane (1953), The Harvey Girls (1946), Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954); or visit your library to find historical accounts of the real Annie Oakley and her times


The Guardian: “Parental Supervision Not Required…”

This is worth a read – “Parental Supervision Not Required: The Freedom of Classic Children’s Fiction” by Sarah Hall in The Guardian.

Not without interest, though a bit obvious – “the heroes of classic children’s fiction enjoyed far less restricted lifestyles than kids do today. Is that why their stories still appeal?” Um, yes?

One wonders about future classic novels set in our time, in which young heroes and heroines must manage to have adventures within the confines of their own living rooms…

Strangely enough, the comments on this article are thoughtful and interesting themselves. (Now that is rare!) Apart from (presumably) elderly rants about today’s lazy parents plunking their kids in front of tv sets and computers, there are some very good points made. Namely:

1. re. Swallows and Amazons-style adventuring – kids never had that much freedom! These books were regarded as fantastical even when they were written.

2. the main reason that children are prevented from walking about unsupervised is not because of parents crazily paranoid about abduction, but because of the danger from motor vehicles – witness the sheer number of vehicles on the roads and the lack of skill and care of the drivers, not to mention road rage, cell phone use, etc. And no longer are there any really quiet streets. Even in my fairly child-friendly neighbourhood cars regularly roll through four-way stops and ignore the school crosswalks.

Sam, Bangs & Moonshine


Sam, Bangs & Moonshine

by Evaline Ness

Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1966

36 pp.

Age: 5+

Interests: cats, imagination, tall tales, storms, ocean, storms, pets, single parent

Other books illustrated by Evaline Ness: All in the Morning Early, A Pocketful of Cricket, Tom Tit Tot


The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship


The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship

retold by Arthur Ransome

illustrated by Uri Shulevitz

Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1968

44 pp.

Age: 4+

Interests: folktales, Russia, magic, ships, flying

Also by this author: Old Peter’s Russian Tales, Swallows and Amazons series

Also by this illustrator: The Treasure, Snow, How I Learned Geography, SoSleepyStory


Books That Teach Manners

Now that we’re back to school and trying to get everyone back ‘with the program’, you might find this link interesting – Commonsense Media list of books that teach manners.

I would add another book we liked..

Richard Scarry’s Please and Thank You Book – Richard Scarry; Random House, 1973

suitable for age 3 and up

In inimitable Scarry style, a primer on thoughtful behaviour, comportment at parties, being helpful, etc. Surprisingly comprehensive and only a wee bit preachy. Starring all your favourite Scarry characters. When my daughter was obsessed particularly interested in tea parties/birthday parties/etc., she quite enjoyed the short stories in this book.

Oh Maurice, you Old Curmudgeon…

Maurice Sendak gives an interview and, as always, speaks pretty candidly. (The interview was done for TateShots in the UK and I came across it via writerswrite.com.)

Always Room for One More


Always Room for One More

retold by Sorche Nic Leodhas

illustrated by Nonny Hogrogian

24 pp.

Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1965

Age: 5+

Interests: Scotland, folksongs, poetry, hospitality/generosity


And a follow-up list…

Oh, and now I’ve found a follow-up 5 More Children’s Books for Grown-ups on the same site. (brainpickings.org) This list is much more interesting and wide-ranging. Pinocchio for example. I read it several months ago and haven’t figured out how to write about it yet.

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All writings posted here are © Kim Thompson, unless otherwise indicated. For all artwork on this site, copyright is retained by the artist.