Ruby and the Magic Garden (Fairy Hill #1)
For the youngest fairies
Luna, Ruby and May are young fairies who live in Fairy Hill. They are learning magic and hope to get their fairy wings from the Fairy Queen by doing a brave, kind deed. When they go to play in the fairy garden, they realize that it is not doing well. They try several strategies to repair it, but nothing works. It is important that the garden be restored, because there is a lost baby deer who needs to eat the magic clover in order to find his way home. Eventually, Ruby figures out the problem, the garden comes back to life, the deer returns home, and Ruby is rewarded with her wings.
The story is engaging, and the problem is simple and easily fixed. The fairies all work together and are supportive of Ruby when she is the one to identify and fix the problem. There is a nice lesson about helping others, and a reward for initiative and hard work.
The pictures are colorful and clear. The characters are easy to identify, and the backgrounds don't interfere with the text.
It is nice to see diverse characters in a beginning reader. I don't know that there were many books like that twenty years ago when my daughters were learning to read. Ruby appears to be African-American, Luna could be Latina or Indian, and May breaks the princess/fairy mold by having short hair, a leafy green outfit, and an androgynous appearance.
There are three books in this series so far, and considering that many early readers will go through lots of books, this will keep them reading for some time. It also provides ample inspiration to young imaginations and may inspire some magical role playing.