Columbine: Bindi (a fairy word meaning “treasure”) is the fairy child around whom this story revolves, but she does not appear until the second half! The first half is all about how her human mother Jan makes friends with Tiki, an unusual fairy with pink hair and blue jeans.

Tiki notices that Jan is sad, and discovers she wants a baby, specifically a baby girl with soft, brown hair like a bird’s feathers and skin like rose petals. Even though it is against the rules to do favours for humans, Tiki does her best to help, collecting magic from all her friends. But she gets a little mixed and is worried the baby might end up with blue hair instead of brown. Jan is quite distressed, especially when Tiki disappears. Tiki’s elf friend Wijic tells her that the tyrannical fairy queen has imprisoned the rebel fairy in an empty wasps’ nest, and Jan and her husband Charlie set out to rescue her. It is then they find out that because their baby girl is a fairy child she is bound to be unusual in some way, and may even have magic powers.

Bindi is safely born with just a few blue hairs among the brown. From her fairy-mother she receives a lovely magical rose gift on every birthday, for example one which tells stories, until her eighth birthday. Then the fairy queen secretly gives Bindi a magic wand and a very nasty necklace which starts to turn her into a horrid little girl; and when she greedily wishes for more toys, she is almost buried alive in them. Jan has to confront the frightening queen and her army of wasps to persuade her to change her ways.

It is interesting that the fairy queen attempts to justify herself by claiming that “For humans, nothing is ever enough; they are never satisfied. That is why fairies are forbidden to make magic for them or give them gifts. They always want more — more — more!” It is a fair point, but the fairy queen cheated by making Bindi greedy and lazy, so the argument rather falls flat. Also the queen is, very unusually for a fairy queen, appallingly unkind to her fairies and elves, so it must be said she richly deserves her fate. There is quite a scary picture of her in the book; you may not like to look at it for too long.

By the end of the book, Bindi is only at the beginning of her magic, but there does not seem to be a sequel, so we will just have to imagine her future adventures.

Robin: I must admit I have not read of such a mean fairy queen before; it is fairly usual for fairies to be banished for bad behaviour, but imprisoned, starved and threatened with wasps! And I expect you noticed she broke her own rule by giving Bindi the gift of the necklace.

In quite a few traditional fairy stories, a lady who cannot have a baby goes to a fairy for help. Usually she has to do something, like collecting petals or drinking water from a special well, but in this story Tiki does all the work! There are stories too which support the queen’s opinion of humans and fairy gifts – often (intentionally) humorous.