It's rare that you can pick up a book, read it with your children and instantly feel that you have been reading it forever - in a good way. This book has the feel of an instant classic which delights with its whimsical illustrations and is engaging for adult and child alike from the very first page.
The book is the story of two siblings; Hattie, the eldest is doing her homework in her bedroom when her younger sibling Edward arrives full of the news that he has knows that there are "little people" living at the bottom of the garden. Being the big older sister she is unconvinced and asks for proof which leads to Edward going off and finding the teeny walking stick of the title, an acorn hat and various other items, one by one, that he is convinced belong to fairies and which Hattie tells him, in the way that big sisters do, are just things from the garden. Will he be able to convince her? Are the fairies real? It's an interesting idea for a story and really appealed to my two young readers, aged 5 and 7.
As well as having a strong story, this book's beautiful line drawn illustrations really add to its charm. There are plenty of fairies to spot throughout; a tiny fairy perches on the end of a child's bed, or small people peek out from behind trees next to tiny toadstool houses. Somehow the illustrator has managed to make the pictures charming without being twee. The setting of a house uncluttered by consoles, gadgetry or plastic toys may not be how childhood actually is these days, but maybe how it's how we, the adults, remember it in a nostalgic way, and how deep down we'd like things to be.
The book itself feels like one that could have been written 30 years ago or more, but it still appeals to modern children if my two are anything to go by! I like the fact that, for a younger children's book, the diaologue and interaction between the siblings feel very real, and the book is ideal bed time story length for a child of 3-7 in my opinion. My older reader has enjoyed reading this by herself as well as having it read to her. The ambiguous ending provides much scope for discussion and rounds the story off nicely, it really is a book that we are happy to read again and again.
There are no gimmicks, pull out tabs or even rhyme to this story; this book doesn't need them, it's a classic tale that has already been read time and time again in this house and one that fully deserves 5 stars - we all love it!
Details from Amazon, where the book can be purchased for £5.39 - I read the paperback version which I received as part of the Amazon Vine programme:
Paperback: 32 pages
Publisher: Hogs Back Books Ltd; First edition (25 Mar 2010)
Product Dimensions: 27.2 x 21 x 0.4 cm