Jody Bergsma,
(Gallery Press, 2003)

The art in Faerie, written and illustrated by Jody Bergsma, is colorful and fun, the perfect visual approach to take in a children's fantasy story. When I shared the story with Vinnie and Molly, a pair of story-lovin' rugrats, their eyes were drawn (like mine) to the bright colors, the exquisitely detailed borders, the array of details filling Bergsma's work. Bergsma has certainly earned her acclaim as an illustrator -- her work here demonstrates a steady hand and keen eye when it comes to turning text into vivid landscapes peopled with lively, memorable, big-eyed characters.

Unfortunately, the story itself failed to capture the interest of adults or children in the room. It's a nice enough yarn -- three rainbow fairies seek a missing friend in a foreign land, guided only by their loyal unicorn and the watchful eyes of their distant but powerful fey queen. There are bats and cats, trolls and goblins, spiders and a boyish, blue-robed wizard named Kevin. There is a magical transformation or two, and a Message, too.

But nothing about the story leaps out and draws its audience into the action. The plot plods along with little action and few surprises, and my young charges lost interest long before the story's anticlimactic resolution. Later attempts to get them to finish the story drew only disinterested shrugs.

What Bergsma lacks as a storyteller in Faerie, she more than makes up as an artist. I'd love to see more of her illustrated books -- especially if someone else pens the tale.

- Rambles
written by Tom Knapp
published 3 May 2003

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