• Alisa Williams

Book Review: The Cottingley Fairies



The Cottingley Fairies

Written by Ana Sender

NorthSouth Books, 2019

Buy Now on Amazon: Hardcover

The Cottingley Fairies by Ana Sender is an enchanting picture book with whimsical illustrations and a story based on true events. In 1918, cousins Elsie Wright and Frances Griffith wish that the adults they know could see the fairies who live in the woods near their home in the village of Cottingley (Yorkshire). So, they photograph these mischievous creatures, and the photos cause quite the stir, even coming to the attention of famed author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Though opinion on the authenticity of the photographs was mixed, Doyle championed the photographs across England, sharing them with various media outlets and at different conferences.

It wasn’t until over 60 years later, in 1981, that Elsie and Frances admitted the photographed fairies had all been an elaborate hoax, though Frances always maintained that fairies do indeed exist and that one of the photographs was of the real thing.

Sender’s picture book doesn’t delve into all of these details, but rather grazes the surface of this strange little story, focusing on two girls who love playing with fairies and wish adults could see what they can, so set out to make that happen. The strength of the book lies in the beautiful illustrations and the whimsy they create. For an adult reader, the plot doesn’t really hold up unless you’ve heard the story of Elsie Wright and Frances Griffith before. (I hadn’t, so I appreciated the end page where it tells the story in full.) But for kids, I think they’ll be drawn in by the idea of fairies that adults can’t see, and Elsie and Frances’ enthusiasm for sharing this world with adults who need a little more magic in their lives.

This review originally appeared on NetGalley. I received a free Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) in exchange for my honest review of this title.

Alisa Williams is the managing editor of SpectrumMagazine.org. She blogs at alisawilliamswrites.com, tweets at @AWWritesStories, and bookstagrams at @AllyWritesStories.

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©2020 by Alisa Williams