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Fairy Spell: How Two Girls Convinced the World That Fairies Are Real

Review

Fairy Spell: How Two Girls Convinced the World That Fairies Are Real

Written by Marc Tyler Nobleman and illustrated by Eliza Wheeler

Do you believe fairies are real? I don't, but 100 years ago, thousands of people did. Why? Because two young British girls, cousins Elsie and Frances, played a trick. Frances took a photo of what appeared to be a group of fairies dancing in front of Elsie. The girls swore the fairies were real. Their parents didn't believe them, of course, so the girls took another picture. This one showed Elsie holding the hands of a gnome.

"This is an interesting story that I hadn't heard before."

All might have been forgotten except because the girls kept insisting that the photos were real, Elsie's mother quietly wondered if they were telling the truth. The following summer, she and Frances' mother went to a lecture about fairies. Elsie's mother showed the photos to the conference speaker. That got people's attention. Word spread quickly and soon Edward Gardner, a man who was known for speaking about supernatural topics, and author Arthur Conan Doyle took interest in the photos. Harold Snelling, an experienced photographer, studied the photos and declared they were real. The photos were subsequently published in a magazine called The Strand. All this attention made people believe that the fairies were real. The hoopla finally died down, and the story faded into the history books.

Author Marc Tyler Nobleman learned of the photos and delved into the history of the fairy story. He has included a page at the back of the book with an "Author's Note" that explains how this book idea came about. He also provides a list of sources that he used for the book so that others can read more about this interesting time in history.

This is an interesting story that I hadn't heard before. I didn't realize that the technology to take fake pictures was already in play 100 years ago. I don't believe the fairies were real, but I was surprised by the idea that two young girls with little or no photography experience were able to pull off such a stunt.

Reviewed by Christine M. Irvin on April 24, 2018

Fairy Spell: How Two Girls Convinced the World That Fairies Are Real
Written by Marc Tyler Nobleman and illustrated by Eliza Wheeler