Fairyopolis: A Flower Fairies Journal

Fairyopolis: A Flower Fairies Journal - Cicely Mary Barker;Glen Bird;Liz Catchpole (5/16/2016 - edited for clarity)

While I might defend the silliness of the -Ology series until my dying day, the same can't be said for this fairy inspired offshoot.

FAIRYOPOLIS is Victorian fairy-tale goofiness vaguely inspired by the Cottingley fairies hoax rather than legitimate folklore. Or least, that's what I think it's about--the stylized cursive is difficult to read, and the story is mostly spent with Cicely Mary Barker's unsettling happy-go-lucky attitude while she discovers "flower fairies" during a summer vacation. It's a shame, because the author is an interesting historical figure, and there's a wealth of interesting and bizarre elements of fairy legends and folklore instead of this watered down nonsense.

Furthermore, FAIRYOPOLIS is extremely short for an -Ology styled novelty book, and the interactive elements are almost negligible in their uninspired glory. Too many times the illustrations were taken from public domain sources or outright traced--yes, the "author" is supposed to be the real life "flower fairy" illustrator Cicely Mary Barker, but the book reeks of unoriginality. It also just didn't sit right with me that the attributed author is an actual person who died over forty years ago; am I really supposed to believe that she wrote an -Ology style novelty book decades before the originals were published? While I’m sure her estate agreed to her name and art’s usage in this book, it feels dishonest in a way that the -Ology books don’t.

But I’ll be the first to the admit that I’m being cynical. In fact, I have a better explanation for the format: if the book truly was written in 1921, which the copyright information indicates that it is, then it’s public domain. Maybe Penguin just didn’t want to publish something that would be accessible for free once published (e.g. the plain journal). Throwing it into a novelty book is a clever way of getting around that, I must admit.

That's not to say that the book is completely absent of creativity; there are little segments like the envelope of fairy dust or the tiny letters that add a touch of adorableness to the "journal" in question. The artwork is gorgeous, so I could easily see very young children enjoying the pretty pictures and pop-out elements while a parent reads to them or the like. But at the same time, it feels like a cash-in on a popular series and it's not memorable given the plethora of cutesy fairytales already in existence.

It's a shame I don't like this more than I do, as I love Barker's artwork and owned several of her seasonal fairy books as a child. It’s not a bad book, but I just couldn’t get into it at all.