Do you believe in fairies? Sir Arthur Conan Doyle did. The man best known for creating the greatest fictional detective of all time, Sherlock Holmes, but he also wrote a book called The Coming of the Fairies. Twin Cities writer Mary Losure came across The Coming of the Fairies book in a local independent book store and became intrigued with the story of the Cottingley Fairies featured in Doyle’s book. Two young girls apparently photographed the fairies, and these photos were seen as proof of the existence of fairies by some. A photograph is proof, right? In the 1920’s, cameras were still a pretty new technology. Not many people had the equipment to take a photo much less alter a negative to create a fake photo. Still, it was hard for many people to believe.
The Fairy Ring by Mary Losure explores the story behind the photographs. It is a fascinating piece of narrative nonfiction that looks at how a hoax might begin very innocently and spiral out of control quickly. It is written for kids (middle school age, primarily), but I recommend this book even beyond that audience. After all, we live in a world of fake photos and fake news and hoaxes of every sort. Sometimes the fakes are easy to spot. But sometimes they are much more difficult. It might seem impossible to kids that these photos were ever taken as proof of fairies, but we’ve probably all been taken in by some online hoax at some point. This is a book that will have you thinking about proof and asking yourself: Would I have believed?
Did you miss last month’s Book Pick? Check it out: The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout
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