This is a perfect antidote to all those fairy books aimed at girls who want to wear sparkly wings and look pretty. The Fairest Fairy is a joyful read that subtly questions which character traits are of true value.
The premise is that ‘Betty was a fairy who just never got things right’. She’s at fairy school where the other students find it easy to succeed where as she struggles with every task. She can’t perform spells, paint rainbows or wake flowers (who knew fairies had so much to do!) And part of the reason she isn’t very good is that she gets distracted; everywhere she turns there are animals who need help. She removes a thorn from a rabbit’s foot then gives him a cuddle, she gives a pep talk to a blackbird who is too scared to fly and cleverly untangles a butterfly’s laces. The fairy school students takes part in a contest to find the fairiest fairy in the land which Betty thinks she has no hope of winning but (*spoiler*) her newfound friends help her and, who’d’ve thought it, she ends up winning the prize.
This book’s message might sound like a bit of a pat on the head for the child who doesn’t do that well at school (and in the age of exams there will be plenty of kids who feel this way.) But I keep thinking about the world my son will be living in when he’s an adult and how increasingly intelligent technology will invert the qualities that we used to think were so important. Richard Susskind argues that in the internet age, knowledge (of the kind which is tested in schools) is not of much value. The professions (doctors, lawyers, architects etc) need creative thinkers, problem solvers and those with good people skills. So perhaps the future is very bright for the Bettys of this world. A heroine for an internet society.
(Also bonus point that Betty wears bright blue sneakers, not glitter stilettos.)
Heroine rating: 4/5