Winter may not be relenting its snowy grip outside our windows anytime soon, but a Maine author and illustrator are bringing a whimsical look at spring to the pages of their newest children’s book, released this week.
“Do Fairies Bring the Spring?” by Liza Gardner Walsh and illustrated by Hazel Mitchell, published by Down East, is a follow-up to their 2015 book, “Where Do Fairies Go When It Snows?” The sweet story is ideal for reading aloud with kids. There’s a whimsical musicality to the prose and vivid, sweet illustrations of fairies and little creatures such as bunnies and a hedgehog.
“Spring has sort of a musicality to it with all the birds and the bees. I guess that subconsciously guided [my writing],” Walsh said.
Mitchell brings an airy, light feel to the illustrations with pastel hues that nod to spring growth and renewal.
“Mostly it’s color choice with this one — the last one was winter, so it had so much blues and darks. Now, we’re onto spring, so my first thought was what colors are more spring like,” Mitchell said.
She used a lot of green in the illustrations, as well as some pinks, purples and yellows.
“[I] really wanted to keep the book more oriented on growing things and how fairies help things grow,” she said.
Meanwhile, Walsh tells the story through a series of questions, like an open-ended thought for inquisitive, young minds.
“I just find with fairies, it begs questionings. There are so many unanswered questions around fairies, and what I love about it is that there’s good possibility,” Walsh said. “I think it goes with the nature of belief … and like could this be? Let’s imagine.”
But it’s the underlying messages of both this book and its predecessor that really stand out.
“The way I am thinking about it, [in] the winter one, the underlying message was about … empathy and kindness. This one was really about taking care of earth. … There was more of an environmental theme with them,” Walsh said.
Walsh, who also is author of numerous other books including “Fairy Garden Handbook” and “Fairy House Handbook,” has another fairy book coming up. “Fairy House Cooking” is slated for release in May and features whimsical recipes for fairy lovers and fairies, too.
“The thing that I keep coming back to is that fairies to me represent creativity, imagination, kindness and wonder. And I think by encouraging kids to think in this way, to get outside, to take care of the world around us, we are hopefully creating caretakers of the earth and future citizens of the world,” Walsh said.
She and Mitchell, who has illustrated many books including her own children’s book, “Toby,” which was released in 2016, also have a board book for young children due out in late 2017. “Fairies 1-2-3” will feature baby fairies in a counting adventure.
“People really just love the fairies, and people love the illustrations. … It reminds me of the kind of stuff when I used to draw when I was a teenager at school,” Mitchell said. “Children just love them. I think they just relate to them because they look like children.”
Walsh and Mitchell will be signing books — and maybe even drawing a few fairies — 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 11, at The Briar Patch on Central Street in downtown Bangor. The book is available where children’s books are sold