Vic Woolley’s charming “two fairy tales for children” recount the adventures of Septimus Spider and his friend, a fairy named Sparkle.
In the first tale, lonely Septimus meets Sparkle when she gets caught in his web. Septimus makes a patch for Sparkle’s damaged wing, so she can fly away and complete an errand for the Fairy Queen. Soon, Sparkle returns. The fairy ball is fast approaching, and she asks Septimus to make her a dress as lovely as the silk patch he made for her wing. Septimus obliges, using a bluebell as a dressmaker’s dummy and spinning a dress of “the finest gauze silk.” Septimus’ creation makes such an impression at the ball that the Fairy Queen herself appoints him her personal dressmaker, allowing him to live near Sparkle and to make many other fairy friends.
In the second tale, Septimus and Sparkle are called into the Fairy Queen’s service when she loses her powerful magic wand. Hobgoblins have stolen the wand and are using it to wreak havoc on a village on the other side of the Dark Wood. With the help of a field mouse and a hedgehog, the two friends find the magic wand, subdue the hobgoblins and bring harmony back to the kingdom. The Fairy Queen rewards them with “the gift of everlasting happiness.”
Woolley writes beautifully. His enthusiastic, evocative style is reminiscent of that of L. Frank Baum, author of the Oz books, though the Septimus stories are geared toward much younger readers. Woolley’s pacing is superb, maintaining a sense of adventure while still providing rich, atmospheric descriptions. The book’s one drawback is its complete lack of illustrations, which may put off children with very short attention spans. Nevertheless, adults looking for wholesome and old-fashioned but exciting stories to read to their charges will find this a lovely addition to any child’s library.
BlueInk Heads-Up: The Star designation is offered with the understanding that the book has copyediting issues that remain in need of attention.