Piper Green and the Fairy Tree marks the sixth book I have reviewed by the wonderful Ellen Potter and I absolutely ADORE it! I reviewed the first book in Potter's Olivia Kidney series, which would make the PERFECT step up for readers after finishing the Piper Green and the Fairy Tree series, back in 2008! It has been such a treat to continue reading her books over the last seven years and experience the imaginative story telling and creative talent Potter brings to each new book and genre she tackles. I am especially excited by this new direction Potter has taken because it allows me to champion (once again) books that are written at a reading level that I have labeled Bridge Chapter Books, populating that former no man's land between leveled readers (like Frog & Toad) and chapter books (like Magic Tree House.)
Piper Green is a character I look forward to getting to know better, especially as she is drawn by Qin Leng, with her pink cheeks and her confident stance. Chapter One of Piper Green and the Fairy Tree (and every Chapter One in the series) begins with Piper telling readers THE IMPORTANT STUFF, as her brother Erik who is "fourteen and very smart," and has left home to attend high school on the mainland, suggested she do. The Greens live on Peek-a-Boo Island, off the coast of Maine where Mr. Green works as a lobsterman. Although Piper only lists these two important things ("1. All the kids on the island ride a lobster boat to school. 2. There is a Fairy Tree on my front lawn.) she slips in a few more interesting facts, telling readers,
If you don't lie lobster boats of Fairy Trees, you should probably do something else. For example, you can go outside now and look for beetles. My little brother, Leo, likes to do that. He only eats the green ones. He says they taste like bacon.
This is a great taste of Piper's narrative voice and Ellen Potter's distinctive writing style, which shines through in every book she writes. Potter has a way of creating every day kids who also happen to have a few (or more) peculiarities that are thoughtfully (not precociously) endearing and entertaining. In her work for older readers, the peculiarities of her characters deepen in profound and moving ways. In Piper Green and the Fairy Tree, Piper's most noticeable peculiarity is her choice to wear her brother's old earmuffs, which are green with a monkey face on each muff, all the time, despite the fact that it is the first day of school and she has a new second grade teacher.
Potter packs this short book with so much, from the Maddie Rose, Mr. Grindle's boat that takes the few kids from Peek-a-boo Island to Mink Island for school each day, to the basket full of warm goodies Mrs. Grindle, the Peek-a-boo Island bakery owner, leaves on the Maddie Rose each morning for the kids to Michelle, the "wife" of Leo, Piper's little brother, who is a piece of paper. Their children are three Post-It notes stuck on Michelle. As the story unfolds, Piper has more to deal with than missing her big brother. The new teacher is NOT a kind princess, despite her "long golden hair that made waves all down her back" and her "swishy light blue dress." Ms. Arabella is all business and earmuffs are not on the agenda. Instead of going to school, Piper hides in a tree and watches the Maddie Rose head off to school. Hearing crying coming from inside the tree, Piper enlists the help of Mrs. Pennypocket, who is out walking her dog, to get to the bottom of the mystery. After an amazing treasure is pulled from the tree, Mrs. Pennypocket gives Piper a flashlight and asks her to look inside the hollowed tree trunk. Letters carved inside the tree reveal that it is THE fairy tree that Mrs. Pennypocket's grandmother, Laura, always told her about! Whenever Laura hid a treasure in the tree, it was replaced with a new one - by fairies! Mrs. Pennypocket also tells Piper that the fairy treasure taken from the tree brought Laura all kinds of good luck. Piper knows that she has to leave something behind for the fairies and she makes a very brave, sweet choice.
In Piper Green and the Fairy Tree: Too Much Good Luck, Piper's day starts of great. Her room is getting painted her favorite color, she finds the perfect strawberry for her oatmeal that she takes to the Fairy Tree, and Mrs. Grindle's goodie basket is filled with her favorite - cinnamon rolls. When her tooth falls out, Piper is excited to have a FOURTH good thing happen to her - until Jacob, whose father is very superstitious, tells her that three things are good luck, but four things is too much good luck. Piper scoffs, but things do seem to go from great to not so great as the day unfolds. Potter weaves a new girl with an allergy to guinea pigs, a wicked witch, a wand, an assignment titled IN MY OWN WORDS, a single, dangly earring, a profuse apology and a lost parakeet into this fantastic second book the the series. In addition to the interesting kid characters, Piper Green and the Fairy Tree is populated with a superb cast of adults that guide, support and teach Piper in ways that are gentle and never didactic or heavy handed. I can't wait to see what the next books in this exciting new series brings!
The Olivia Kidney Series
Middle Grade Novels by Ellen Potter
The Humming Room, a contemporary retelling of The Secret Garden.
Books by Ellen Potter I need to review...
Source: Review Copy