Old Favorites: A Trio of Fairy Girls

With the popularity of Daisy Meadow’s Rainbow Fairies books, these sparkling creatures with gauzy wings and magical wands have glittered their way back into the spotlight. But long before Rachel and Kirsty found the Rainbow Meadow, there were Minikin (better known as Minx), Annabel and Tiki.

The three books below keep coming up on library and bookstore “stumper” lists as treasured classics from little girls’ childhoods. The titles and authors may not be remembered (until now!) but the storylines are unforgettable. So, without further ado, my three favorite fairies.

* * *

Little Witch, by Anna Elizabeth Bennett. 1953
Minikin Snickasnee–called Minx for short–is a witch’s child. Or is she? Madame Snickasnee might be the dirtiest, ugliest, meanest witch in the world, but her daughter likes being clean, doesn’t like eating bat wings or making horrible Black Spell Brew, and her greatest ambition is to go to school.

One night, when the witch is out, Minx decides to experiment instead of making the brew she’s supposed to. Madame Snickasnee, you see, has some magic powders too–pretty, colorful ones, and Minx wants to make a fairy appear. (She wouldn’t mind un-enchanting the row of flowerpots that used to be children either.)  So she throws a pinch of color into the brew, and conjures up a centaur. He isn’t very nice, but he does give her some good advice.

Brave because of her success, Minx sneaks out during the next day to attend school, where  she meets a new friend.  Frances and her brothers take Minx home, and she learns about being a human child. But Frances wants to know about being a witch, and soon Minx has the children over to brew some of the colored powders.  They achieve some interesting results, which lead Minx and Frances to believe that maybe witchcraft isn’t the source of Minx’s magic.

When Madame Snickasee comes home unexpectedly and captures her new friends, will Minx find the courage to defy the old witch and save them? Will her magic potions help her find her true place in the world?  Is Minx really a little witch, or is she something else?

* * *

No Flying in the House, by Betty Brock, illustrated by Wallace Tripp. 1970
Rich Mrs. Vancourt lives alone in her huge old mansion. Well, she did until Gloria, a tiny white dog, and her young charge, Annabel show up. Reluctantly, Mrs. Vancourt allows three-year-old Annabel to live in the house, if Gloria will stay too, and spend part of her time entertaining Mrs. Vancourt.

Annabel’s parents have left her in Gloria’s care due to “circumstances beyond their control”. Annabel doesn’t seem to miss them, and is happy to have Gloria give her baths, read to her at bedtime, and take care of her. For three years, they happily live with Mrs. Vancourt. Then, one day, Annabel opens a door she shouldn’t have.

Inside Mrs. Vancourt’s toy cabinet, a malevolent golden cat with emerald green eyes tells Annabel she’s a fairy. Annabel is surprised, but rather pleased. However, when Belinda (that’s the cat) tells her that Gloria has been lying to her, Annabel isn’t sure what to do. When she discovers that she can kiss her elbow (which is surprising difficult, and only fairies can do) and actually FLY, Annabel has to decide what to do and who to believe.

Is Gloria lying to her? Is Belinda? Why can she fly, unless she is a fairy? And how does Mrs. Vancourt connect with all of this? If Annabel wants to save Gloria, she has to discover the answers to all these questions and find out what truly did happen to her parents.

* * *

The Fairy Rebel, by Lynne Reid Banks.  1985
Bindi is an ordinary girl, who lives outside London. Ordinary, that is, except for the streak of blue hair growing at the back of her head. Blue hair?

Jan, Bindi’s mother, was very sad after she got married. One day, she was sitting in her garden, wishing for a nice, ordinary baby, with soft brown hair, skin like rose petals, browny-green eyes, and beautiful hands with nails shaped like almonds. And fat feet.

Tiki is a fairy with pink hair, who likes blue jeans and who happens to overhear Jan. Being a helpful sort (even if a little confused about colors), she grants Jan’s wish.

Neither Jan nor Tiki realize that the Fairy Queen isn’t going to be very happy with Tiki’s actions. But Jan and her husband Charlie help Tiki and her friend Wijik escape the wrath of The Queen just before Bindi’s birth. And they all live happily ever after. Or do they?

When Bindi turns eight, the Fairy Queen discovers that the child she thought was gone has magic of her own. Bindi’s blue hair holds some of Tiki’s magic, and the Queen wants it back. Can Bindi and Jan find Tiki? Can they work together and discover how to fight The Queen? Can Bindi be saved?

* * *

These three books will always be my top three favorite fairy stories. I feel like I’m eight years old again when I read them; I want to be able to kiss my elbow, throw some glittering powder into a cauldron and conjure up a half-red, half yellow pied piper, or have a lock of magic purple hair hidden somewhere in my ponytails.  (blue would be okay, but I prefer purple.)

Two of these books are still in print, sadly Little Witch is not. If it ever is though, I’m buying multiple copies! Luckily, the library has all three available to borrow, so stop in sometime and check one out.  Share one of these stories with your favorite little girl, and discover the wonder of magic again, or for the first time.  I’m fairly certain that graduates of The Rainbow Fairies will treasure these old new fairy adventures too.



2 thoughts on “Old Favorites: A Trio of Fairy Girls

  1. When going through a box of my mom’s scrapbook savings…old letters, cards, valentines, etc. we came upon a “story” I wrote in third grade (about 1968ish). It was about a family of witches in which one does not want to be a witch. Memories came flooding back of some of my favorite childhood books and I recognized this “story” as a book report of sorts. I remember the little witches and their adventures and her desire to be “normal.” So I “googled” the names in my book report and found your site. Sure enough, “Little Witch” was one of the books I remember. I think there were a few more. I even “illustrated” the book report with little witch drawings. Ironically, today I am a graphic artist and illustrator and some of my Halloween art are funny little witch girls. I never realized it was rooted in my favorite stories from grade school!
    Thank you for this online “book report.” It brought back great memories. I will probably have to hunt ebay now for copies of these books!

    (my other favorites are by Rummer Godden, a series of stories about oriental dolls named “Miss Happiness and Miss Flower” and others named Little Pear and Little Plum.)

  2. I still have my childhood copy of Little Witch on my bookshelf, passed down from one of my aunts’ own childhoods–in fact it is the same green (hard?)cover that’s pictured. I also still have The Fairy Rebel, although that one might not count as I’d sold my originally-bought copy at a moving sale, but kept regretting it so I bought it again a few years later. I did manage to find the same cover as the edition I grew up with–which, yes, is the same as the one pictured.
    I never owned No Flying In The House, unfortunately, although I do distinctly remember checking it out of my elementary school library more than once. I might see if I can find it next time I go to Powell’s Books.

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