Where Snow Angels Go

Where Snow Angels Go
Maggie O’Farrell and Daniela Jaglenka Terrazzini
Walker Books

‘Have you ever woken suddenly, in the middle of the night, without knowing why?’ So begins Maggie O’Farrell’s debut picture book wherein it’s young Sylvie who wakes unexpectedly to find her bedroom pulsing with a glimmering light, her curtains disturbed and a chill in the air. Suddenly a breathtaking sight meets her eyes, glowing white with a shimmering outline and an enormous pair of snow-white feathery wings. Before her an angel is creeping across the room muttering softly to himself.

Amazed that Sylvie can see him, he says that he’s her snow angel, there to look after her: Sylvie, he insists, is not as well as she thinks. He also reminds her that she has, despite what she says, heard of a snow angel, having made one the previous winter.

Assuring the girl that he’ll always be there watching her, the being disappears.

Many months later, after a long illness, Sylvie is feeling much better and recalling the visit, longs to see the angel again, for it was he who saved her life. Now she has a lot to tell him and even more she wants to know but of the snow angel there is no sign. Sylvie decides risk taking and putting herself in danger might precipitate his return, but throughout the summer nothing works. Then, as summer draws to an end, there are occasions when she feels he’s responsible for saving her life, but still she doesn’t see her angel.

Determined that those she loves – family and friends – have their very own protector, the girl tries asking if they too have ever made snow angels. Maybe if she calls on her Snow Angel to grant her a very special wish, something truly amazing can happen …

Maggie O’Farrell together with artist Daniela Jaglenka Terrazzini, have created their own small miracle in this powerful, exceptionally beautiful book that is essentially a 21st century fairy tale about a little girl, bravery, wishing and love – and of course – the wonders of snow. Daniela’s illustrations are hauntingly ethereal at times, at others superbly realistic, but always full of charm and in perfect harmony with Maggie O’Farrell’s compelling, suspenseful story weaving. (I love the circularity of her telling.)

Destined to become a seasonal classic assuredly. Make some hot chocolate, snuggle up and read with family this winter.

The Day I Fell into a Fairytale

The Day I Fell into a Fairytale
Ben Miller, illustrated by Daniela Jaglenka Terrazzini
Simon & Schuster Children’s Books

Lana is a lover of stories and books, often using them as a starting point for fantastical games played with her brother, Harrison.
Now though, Harrison has started secondary school and considers himself both too grown-up and too busy with studies to play with his sister. Consequently, Lana feels lonely.

Then something strange and magical happens when with her mum, she visits the mega offers supermarket that’s recently appeared in town and there she discovers something totally unexpected – a portal leading to a fairytale world.

There is SO much to discover in this other world and her own.
Just who is the strange little old man she encounters in the supermarket?

Lana manages to get her brother to take her back to the supermarket
but “tubs of sweets that lead to fairytales … it’s just too far-fetched” is his reaction. But is it so?

Even when both siblings have cascaded through a portal, large white deer fail to convince him of its otherworldly nature; so what about flying arrows?

Lana though, is used to happy-ever-after fairytales and what she experiences are anything but; they’re dark and perilous. Even that odd little man when next they meet him, insists that the Sleeping Beauty fairytale the siblings have just left, is of the scary kind.

Enter Hansel and Gretel, a wicked witch (now where did she come from?) and what in fairytale land do oxbow lakes, Archimedes and the lever principle have to do with anything?

So, can Lana – dubbed Lana of Azupermarket – with the aid of her brother, defeat that evil witch? Perhaps, but only if she can convince him to resurrect his belief in fairytales.

With a big push for the power of the imagination and the importance of having fun, Ben Miller has created stories within a story and it’s so cleverly done. No reverse psychology required to get this reviewer and lover of fractured fairytales to read it right through, relishing every word. I love the border embellishments and occasional illustrations by Daniela Jaglenka Terrazzini too.

As a teacher I’ve never been one to stick to timetables but having read this cracking story, I might just have to think again on that one – in certain circumstances that is.