Recently I discovered Jane Tanner’s beautiful books about fairies. Jane is an acclaimed Australian illustrator who lives in Melbourne. She has been won many prestigious awards, in the CBCA of the Year Awards in several categories. Her picture books, Isabella’s Secret and Lily and the Fairy House, are now very dear to my heart and in this blog, I share a little bit about them and why I adore them (and my fairies too).
When Isabella uncovers a secret in her garden
Isabella discovers fairies living in her garden and is overjoyed! The story is a beautiful celebration of the joys of childhood. As I followed Isabella, I found myself travelling back in time and remembering my own adventures in Mother Nature as a little girl. Oh, how I loved daydreaming, writing fairy stories, and learning about life from insects and trees! Did you too?
The book is beautifully written and illustrated. For me, Jane Tanner’s style is reminiscent of Mary Cicley Barker’s, who is most famous for her naturalistic and romantic representations of flower fairies. Jane’s illustrations are naturalistic, dynamic and so detailed; every time I look at them, I see something new. Jane has clearly passed many hours making keen observations of children, and plants, such as the apple tree. She uses a beautiful soft colour palette, which helps to create a dreamy atmosphere, and repeated elements, such as floating leafs, to create magical and fun moments. Meanwhile, her text is lyrical and playful.
In many ways, Isabella’s Secret follows in the tradition of The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. It reminds us how our gardens can be sanctuaries of wonder and mystery, learning and healing.
When Lily hosts a tea party for the fairies
Discovering that there are fairies in the gum tree, an Australian Native, Lily makes a house for them, complete with a bed and table. She then decides to host a tea party for them but wonders whether they will come and play.
Once again, the book illustrations are exquisite. Jane’s uses a similar artistic style to Isabella’s Secret to create the magic of Lily’s experience.
This enchanting tale will no doubt inspire fairy believers, young and older, to go on fairy adventures and host mini magical tea parties in Nature. It has certainly inspired me to keep on creating furniture for the fairies in my garden (I’m currently working on a mini theatre).
Both books are published by Puffin Books. Lily and the Fairy House is available from Amazon and the Book Depository. Second hand copies of Isabella’s Secret are currently available from AbeBooks. From time to time, I have seen the copies also on the shelves of Australian discount stores, such as Big W.
What kinds of delights do you make for a fairy tea party? I’d love to share below.
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