I love Jethro Byrd, Fairy Child for its assertion that magic is all around us, as long as you look closely. My children, six and eight, both love this book as well and often ask me to read it to them. The book opens with Annabelle looking for fairies in the "cement and weeds" near her house despite her father's firm statement that she won't find them. Annabelle's firm belief and tireless searching are rewarded when one Saturday she finds a boy with wings, as big as her finger, shivering in the breeze. As soon as he has introduced himself as "Jethro Byrd, fairy child," Annabelle spies a miniature ice cream truck that has fallen from the sky. Jethro's family -- his father, mother, grandmother, and baby sister -- are trying to tug the truck back to upright and ask for Annabelle's help. She quickly helps and then invites them to her house for tea.
Annabelle leads the Byrd family back to her house and introduces them to her parents. She wonders why it is that her mother is looking the wrong way when she heartily greets the Byrds, and then, suspicious, asks her father if he can see them. He claims that he can but Annabelle can tell that he can't. Sad, she asks Jethro's mother why her parents can't see them. "He's too grown up," the fairy tells her. "He doesn't have time for fairies." As I read this line I choke up, every single time. Is that true?
After a lovely afternoon playing music and dancing, the Byrds tell Annabelle they have to go. Crushed, she asks if she can go with them. No, they tell her. She is just too big. As they leave, the Byrds give Annabelle a fairy watch which tells fairy time. "Time goes by slowly for fairies," they explain. The watch fits right on her fourth finger. The ice cream truck lifts into the air, flying away, and the Byrds leave with a reminder to wind her watch and to "keep looking." That night, Annabelle sees fairies all around her neighborhood.
Jethro Byrd, Fairy Child reminds us that for those who look carefully, the world is full of startling beauty. It reminds us that there are wonders -- magic, even -- to be found if we slow down and walk at the pace of a child, take the time to look at what they see, and, most of all, to believe.