Leah - the Fairy of the Lime Tree by Nisha Kissoon and Anna Kecskes
|Leah - The Fairy of the Lime Tree by Nisha Kissoon and Anna Kecskes|
|Category: For Sharing|
|Reviewer: Jo Heffer|
|Summary: Leah works with her mother tending the leave of the lime tree on the island where they live. One day though something happens that causes Leah to lie to her mother. This leads to serious consequences because she starts to lose her wings and her power to fly. She is consigned to be a fairy of the grassland but can she work hard enough to earn her wings back?|
|Buy? No||Borrow? Maybe|
|Pages: 36||Date: June 2008|
|Publisher: MX Publishing|
This unusual story is actually a Caribbean fairy tale and provides a strong message for its reader. I read this story with my five year old daughter who maybe was a little too young to appreciate it in its entirety but nevertheless enjoyed it.
Leah and her mother were the fairies who looked after the lime tree on the island of Caarmah. Although Leah was usually a good fairy, on the last day of the school term she fell asleep on the banks of the White Lotus Lily pond which resulted in her missing some very important lessons at school. Rather than admitting what she had done to her mother, she tried to get away with it by telling a small lie. However, every time she did this, the colour on her wings faded a little and eventually she lost her wings all together. This meant that she could no longer tend the lime tree because she couldn't fly and had to become a Fairy of the Grassland instead. Her mother told her that if she did the right thing she would eventually be helped to get her wings back.
Because Leah is essentially a good fairy she worked hard every day tending the blades of grass and she tried to be happy about her work, although she desperately longed to get back to the lime tree. Eventually a young teacher came to help her and finally, in the tradition of all good fairy tales, it results in a happy ending when she is reunited with her mother.
The message in this story is very powerful and it provides a useful talking point about why we should always strive to tell the truth. It also demonstrates very strongly how actions have consequences which you have to accept if you are going to be able to move forward. Leah, who really is a very caring fairy, provides a good model for this and my daughter did sympathise with her as we were reading. The story was also well supported by some lovely, almost dreamlike illustrations.
However, although my daughter enjoyed the story I did think that there were some aspects which she struggled with somewhat. It is quite a lengthy text which was a bit unexpected as it is presented in the format of a picture book. Now, I don't really have a problem with lengthy texts and I actively encourage my daughter to look at longer ones especially as her ability to concentrate develops. This text though did seem to ramble at times and I felt that it was far too wordy in places. I thought that it would have been more enjoyable if it had been halved in length.
The vocabulary was also very challenging in places as the story introduced some complex ideas, For example, there is much mention of synchronicity which was something my daughter had never heard of and I have to admit that I struggled to explain. The difficult concepts are much more likely to be understood by older readers but as this is a fairy tale it is unlikely to appeal to them.
For these reasons I feel that this story loses its way somewhat which is a shame because it really is quite thought provoking. As I said my daughter did enjoy reading it with me but it really did feel like hard work at times! I think a more accessible fairy tale with a moral theme would be The Apple-pip Princess by Jane Ray.
You can read more book reviews or buy Leah - the Fairy of the Lime Tree by Nisha Kissoon and Anna Kecskes at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Leah - the Fairy of the Lime Tree by Nisha Kissoon and Anna Kecskes at Amazon.com.
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Mohammed Singh said:
I think that this remarkable little book is meant to be enjoyed by children of any reading age, (even big kids like parents) it's target audience is wide and all inclusive of anyone who isn’t afraid to learn a little something while enjoying some visually very appealing illustrations.
I don't think this is a 'traditional' story by any measure because the story line is so well constructed with symbolism to convey a multiplicity of messages to a young (and not-so-young) audience, at varying reading levels. Basically, if your child can read or if your child likes to be read to, this is your best pick for an illustrated children's book.
This is the story of a young fairy Leah, (symbolising any young child) who made a mistake (as everyone does) but who chose to tell a lie about it. She thought she would have been able to work around the problem by seeking the help of her friend (named Satiah - which means 'truth' in sanskrit.) Her friend Satiah's advice is (understandably) that Leah confess the truth in its entirety to her mom. Leah decided not to follow this advice and instead told a couple more lies to cover for the first one. The problem was that as a fairy, telling a lie weakened her wings (symbolising one’s credibility and the fragility of anyone's credibility with the weakening effect of lying) until eventually, she lost her wings (credibility) altogether. When her mother discovers what transpired, she gives her a chance to make amends for herself and here ensues the lesson on 'cause and effect' and how one action can have many consequences (the lesson of 'Karma.') This part of the story teaches the young fairy (child) about being responsible for one's actions (which all children and hhhmm...some adults need reminding about.)
When Leah decides to take full responsibility for the consequences of her actions, ( the best way to achieve forgiveness) it meant moving away from her home (The Lime Tree) and living with another fairy family, a different group of fairies who were born without wings, but who had amazingly powerful voices, as they would sing in order to accomplish their work. - since they couldn't fly around to do so. (This part of the story teaches about the transformative capacity of energy: sound into physical matter and the bigger picture implication - the power of one's language on creating one's reality! or of the power of 'mantras’ / ‘sacred spells.’')
As a useful side effect, singing also benefits the fairy singer in terms of allowing her to build and lift her own energy. (Who doesn't feel better after singing their favourite song, right?)
Leah always in her heart wanted to regain her wings and resume life on The Lime Tree with her mother. As it turned out, the special way in which the wing-less fairies sang was actually the precise remedy that Leah needed to be able to rebuild her wings! Leah had to sing a special spell / mantra to harness the power of sunlight and transform it into her wings (another example of the transformative capacity of energy, but this time from light to matter, using sound.)
All these events occurred on a backdrop of synchronicity. (I've not yet come across another children's book that has attempted to explain this concept to children. In fact - I think there may be a few adults out there who don't get it to begin with! May be they should read this book!)
Leah successfully re-gains her wings (after making the required effort) and in the end realizes that she is now blessed with the chance to teach other young fairies. So the story ends on a note of hope and reinforces the life lesson of the cycle of learning and teaching.
All of the significant life events for this young fairy occurred in the vicinity of the Lotus Lily pond – Lotus Lilies symbolize transformation in Eastern cultures (which apparently is the heritage of the author, so no mere coincidence there but rather a well constructed metaphor.)
I think this was a great little book and personally can't wait to read the next in this author's series to my 5 year old who thoroughly enjoyed it!
My thanks to N Kissoon and A Kesckes – great job!