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Tinker Bell in Peter PanRobin: There were always known to be lots of Never Land fairies, of course, but until very recently only one had a name: Tinker Bell. She was too tiny to be seen on stage (actually I think she was played by a light and a bell), so it was not until the Disney film of Peter Pan that she “got her close-up”. I think she could be said to have stolen the film. Though that was a long time ago now, she has never been forgotten.

Clearly Tink (as everyone calls her) got tired of Peter at some point and just went home. The whole new world of Pixie Hollow was revealed in Fairy Dust and the Quest for the Egg and since then there have been lots of books and a film called Tinker Bell. She’s not the most important fairy or anything, but she is the best known and she has quite the personality.

Four fairies of Pixie HollowThe Never fairies live on the island Never Land, in Pixie Hollow, or Fairy Haven (the latter may be the part of Pixie Hollow they live in, I’m not sure). Queen Clarion is their gracious leader. There are girl fairies and boy fairies (called sparrow men) and each of them has a special ‘talent’ which takes up most of their time. This business of talents is very odd to my mind; it seems to stem from Peter’s casually describing Tinker Bell as a mender of pots and pans, something which James Barrie himself claimed was not true: “Peter had a bad habit of saying the first thing that came into his head”. However, she is a very keen tinker in this world. It is notable that the other fairies’ names do not seem to relate to their talents. These talents are apparently innate, and a source of joy to the fairies rather than a type of work, but it does seem to limit them quite a lot. Imagine being a polishing-talent fairy, for example, and doing lots of polishing every day. The animal-talent fairies understand and help animals, the nursing-talent fairies help the sick and the light-talent fairies put on light shows, but some of the talents are rather absurd like the “knowing-when-a-dish-is-done talent”.

Pixie Hollow is a bustling community and the fairies seem to have lots of fun, though they suffer a fair amount of angst, worrying about this and that. There are many dangers on the island, as we know, and they can get into serious trouble.

Four fairies of Pixie HollowHere are some of the chapter books:
Dulcie’s Taste of Magic by Gail Herman
Tink, North of Never Land by Kiki Thorpe
Prilla and the Butterfly Lie by Kitty Richards
Rani and the Three Treasures by Kimberly Morris
The Trouble with Tink by Kiki Thorpe
Beck Beyond the Sea by R. H. Disney

Of course Disney doesn’t stop at books! Apart from the Tinker Bell film they have more films coming out, and there are dolls and toys and a special Pixie Hollow attraction at their theme parks. The fairies even have their own Disney website, where you can “create your own fairy”! And there is a quite elaborate Pixie Hollow online game too.

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Peter Pan in Scarlet coverRobin: Peter Pan in Scarlet is set many years after Peter Pan. Wendy and the Lost Boys, now quite dreadfully grown up, are having dreams about Neverland and fear it is in danger. They decide to return, but how? They try catching a fairy in Kensington Gardens by running about with butterfly nets but naturally only catch insects. Then they decide to coax a baby to laugh, a much easier plan. Fireflyer is hatched from the laugh, “a tiny, bluish mite with red hair and eyes the colour of honey”.

Fireflyer seems to automatically produce the fairy dust which Wendy and the Lost Boys need to fly to Neverland, once they have (rather unbelievably) regained childhood. He is always hungry, and though first fed on ice cream and scones, also eats letters and musical notes. He notably devours a cargo hold of onions and becomes as round and heavy as a cricket ball. He is a wonderful liar and very vain; in particular he doesn’t like to admit he doesn’t know much. He loves being the centre of attention and adds a new piece of fake fairy lore: “Fairies die if you ignore them.” He becomes fascinated by the stories about Tinker Bell and longs to meet her. In the end, he finds her in the most unexpected place.

Meanwhile, there is something very wrong with Neverland – its eternal summer has turned to autumn – its summer green turned to scarlet and gold. The lagoon has been poisoned – all the mermaids are dead and the pirate ship floats deserted on its waters. The fairies have divided into two factions, blue and red, and are at war.

At the waterfall the explorers see a cloud of glittering colour which they take for rainbows in spray. “One by one, the individual specks of colour separated and floated down, like rose petals at the end of summer. They brushed their upturned faces; settled on their shoulders. More and more fell: a light now of flaking colour. Like snow it mesmerized them – a dizzying downward whirl of prettiness. Instead of spray from the waterfall they could feel only the soft touch of a thousand thousand velvety fragments of loveliness. It piled up in their hair; it filled their ears and pockets; it tugged on their clothes. Tugged?
“Fairies!” cried Tootles delightedly. “Thousands of fairies!”
Suddenly the snow was a blizzard. Delight was replaced by unease then, just as quickly, by fear. The snowfall of tiny bodies showed no sign of stopping.”
The children are in danger as the fairies demand to know which side they support and they are baffled as they have no idea what is happening. Peter says the fairies are fighting over their favourite colour. Only his improvisation of a multicolored banner throws the fairy army into confusion.

The fairies reappear later and inadvertently save the children from ravening beasts. “Claws and teeth were useless against such an onslaught. The gaping jaws were soon crammed solid with prickly fairies; paws were soon pinned to the ground.” No doubt about it, these Neverland fairies are unnerving. They are compared to a spinning tornado-funnel, to a swarm of locusts, and to ants that think with a single brain. They are called “hooligan fairies”. They are utterly single-minded and cannot be reasoned with.

Of course most of the book is about the adventures of Peter and his party. The fairies, except for Fireflyer, play very little part. When Neverland heals, they call a truce, although for a while there are still “marauding bands of dandies”; you will also be glad to know also that mermaids eventually return to the lagoon.

Escape from the Carnivale coverColumbine: This exciting story is part of the Never Land series introduced by Peter and the Starcatchers. In this book the mermaids of Mermaid Lagoon have golden skins with green hair and tails. They are telepathic, but have learned to speak Mollusk and English. They have a beautiful and stern leader, Teacher. Surf and Aqua are playful young mermaids, identical except for their hair decorations.

Surf is looking for pearls with her twin sister Aqua and her friend Little Scallop of the Mollusk Tribe when she is captured by the crew of the Carnivale. The Carnivale is a carnival ship, a travelling show, and the captain plans to keep the mermaid as a star attraction. He imprisons her in a tank on deck along with various freakish sea creatures. Surf is especially scared by a scissorfish which tries to cut her long hair.

Little Scallop devises a clever plan to free her, using dolphins to distract the crew while James of the Lost Boys climbs aboard the ship. Meanwhile Hook and his pirates, currently shipless, build a raft with the intention of taking the Carnivale for themselves.

Columbine: This book starts with the weird premise that fairies are born from a baby’s first laugh. Barrie said in Peter Pan: “When a baby laughed for the first time, the laughter broke into a thousand pieces and they all went skipping about, and that was the beginning of fairies.” Whatever you may think about that, latterly, it seems, each baby’s first laugh produces just one fairy – it may be a Great Wanded fairy or a Lesser Wanded fairy or a Spell-Casting fairy or a Giant Shimmering fairy – or occasionally a Never fairy. The others stay where they are created, but the laugh which becomes a Never fairy sets off across the sea to hunt down Never Land, the roving island. So does Prilla arrive at Fairy Haven in Never Land, and the other fairies are breathless to see which “talent” she will belong to. But Prilla does not seem to know, so they try to help her by showing her around. As the members of a talent stick together and Prilla feels rather left out and lonely. She feels different from the other fairies, and she is. Not incomplete – as the mean Vidia suggests – but rather more involved with humanity than they are, as will become clearer when her talent is finally revealed.

A terrible hurricane causes havoc on the island. The Home Tree, where most of the fairies live, is uprooted, fairies are scattered and hurt, Mother Dove badly injured and her egg incinerated by a lightning bolt. This is a disaster, because it is Mother Dove’s egg which keeps Never Land and its different peoples eternally young. Queen Clarion asks Prilla, Rani, a water-talent fairy, and Vidia, a fast-flying-talent fairy, to ask the dragon Kyto’s help in restoring the egg. He is a mean dragon, so they must first find three precious objects for his hoard (dragons love hoards). Prilla thus gets to see quite a bit of Never Land – especially the pirates and the mermaids and the mountain. This is Prilla’s story, so of course she saves the day in the end, when all seems lost because of Kyto’s exceptional meanness.

Despite some odd ideas, this is a beautifully written book with an engaging, unpredictable story and strong characters. There is a direct sequel: ”Fairy Haven and the Quest for the Wand” in which Rani tries to keep a promise to a mermaid, and finds out that there is a reason Never Land fairies don’t have magic wands. The world of Pixie Hollow appears in other books too, though these are by far the best. For more see: Never Fairies by Disney