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The Fairy Ring

3.48  ·  Rating Details ·  789 Ratings  ·  203 Reviews
The enchanting true story of a girl who saw fairies, and another with a gift for art, who concocted a story to stay out of trouble and ended up fooling the world.

Frances was nine when she first saw the fairies. They were tiny men, dressed all in green. Nobody but Frances saw them, so her cousin Elsie painted paper fairies and took photographs of them "dancing" around Franc
Hardcover, 192 pages
Published March 27th 2012 by Candlewick (first published March 1st 2012)
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Newbery 2013
69th out of 113 books — 1,220 voters
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Great Nonfiction for Tweens
14th out of 28 books — 2 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,481)
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Monica Edinger
Mar 07, 2012 Monica Edinger rated it really liked it
I've been besotted with the Cottingley Fairies story for years and years, even using it to frame a speech on literary fairy tales I gave long ago. I've done a ton of research on it thinking I'd write a book about it one day, but now Mary Losure has written that very book. Darn you, Mary! Just kidding as this is a terrific book. Sympathetic, fascinating, well-researched (and I should know:), clear, and an all around great read. More about it on my blog here.
May 14, 2012 Wendy rated it it was ok
I don't think this slight book is altogether successful. (Which is too bad, because it could have benefited from some vague World of Downton Abbey publicity.) There's not quite enough story for a book of this length, unless it's that the telling just feels repetitious. The writing overall feels like it talks down to the child reader. Or maybe the book isn't aimed at the audience the cover suggests (mid-to-upper middle grade?) I think it could have been a more successful long-form picture book, b ...more
Rachael Stein
Apr 12, 2012 Rachael Stein rated it liked it
I was really excited about this book. I love fairies. I love hoaxes. I love fervent childhood friendships that border on the unsettling. And perhaps most of all, I love narrative nonfiction.

Here's a little confession: I'm not so good at reading straight nonfiction. Never have been. I promise you that most of what I know about European history comes from Jane Austen, Victor Hugo, and Charles Dickens. So when I saw that this book was laid out like a novel, I expected to be both informed and entert
Aug 29, 2012 Larissa rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
It all began with Frances, a young girl who, being new to England, one day discovered fairies at the bottom of the garden. Unfortunately it seemed Frances was the only one to see these fairies and so without proof no one believed her, that is apart from her cousin Elsie of course. But that didn't stop the teasing that followed.

Elsie, being of kind heart and somewhat mischief nature, decided to put a stop to the teasing of her cousin Frances by providing proof of the existence of fairies. Somethi
Explains, step-by-step, how a harmless idea could be blown out of control.

Two cousins like to play by a stream in their back yard. One thinks she sees fairies. The other decides to draw some and take photos (a new technology--this is 1917) of the drawings, to make people stop teasing them. Someone mentions these pictures to a group eager to prove the existence of fairies. And eventually, the question becomes: How do you take something back once it's taken on a life of its own?

The author careful
Carlin S
Apr 14, 2014 Carlin S rated it liked it
In the book The Fairy Ring by Mary Losure, the main message of this book is that adults need to understand how delicate children's imaginations are and how important their fantasies are to them. This novel takes place in the vast forests "of the fairy's" in England around the 1900s. The novel is written by the perspective of the author who writes about Frances and Elsie's story of "fairy's are real". Frances and Elsie are cousins and the two main characters in this book. Frances has a very stron ...more
Richie Partington
Sep 29, 2012 Richie Partington rated it it was amazing
Richie’s Picks: THE FAIRY RING, OR ELSIE AND FRANCES FOOL THE WORLD by Mary Losure, Candlewick, March 2012, 192p., ISBN: 978-0-7636-5670-6

“I know you won’t believe me
But I’m certain that I did see
A mouse playing daffodil”
-- Ray Thomas, “Nice to Be Here”

“How was she supposed to know that she had taken her photographs at a time when a number of very respectable, well-educated city people were starting to think that maybe fairies weren’t ‘magic’ at all?
“Maybe, these people thought, fairies were ju
Nicola Mansfield
May 02, 2012 Nicola Mansfield rated it really liked it
Reason for Reading: I've read Joe Cooper's "The Case of the Cottingley Fairies" and have since been fascinated with this story and with Doyle's involvement. This book for juveniles sounded like it would present the story from the girls' point of view and I was eager to read it.

This is a wonderful little biography, complete with all the "fairy" photographs and others of Frances and Elsie at the time, which tells the story of how the cousins came to be together in England at Cottingly, Yorkshire.
Mary Ann
Mar 03, 2012 Mary Ann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read the electronic ARC from NetGalley. I wasn't aware of the Cottingley fairy story before reading Fairy Ring by Mary Losure. Losure does a nice job of setting up the tale by describing the lives of the two girls involved during the WW1 era. She uses letters to structure the events that led the two young cousins into what became an unintended widespread hoax: prominent people believed that the girls managed to photograph fairies! Even Arthur Conan Doyle took an interest! Though written for a ju ...more
Tahlia Newland
Apr 18, 2012 Tahlia Newland rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya
This is the full story of the Cottingley fairies, the photos of fairies that came to light in England in the early twenties. You have probably seen these photos at one time or another, but when they first appeared, experts in photography at the time indicated that the plates the photos were real. The photographic plates had not been tampered with. Several influential people of the time, including Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (author of Sherlock Holmes) were sure that fairies were real and latched onto ...more
Krista the Krazy Kataloguer
Losure does a beautiful job of telling the true story of the two English cousins who, in the 1920s, faked a couple of photos of themselves and some fairies, never dreaming what a stir they would cause in the years to come. I'd heard of Elsie and Frances and the Cottingley fairies before, but never read a full account of it as is in this book. Elsie liked to draw, and was a very good artist, so she was the one who made the cutout fairies to use in the photos. What astonishes me is that adults act ...more
May 28, 2012 Jessica rated it really liked it
Sometimes I stumble across books I'd never heard of on the New releases shelf at the library. This is one such book...although I wonder if they had it on the WRONG new releases shelf. I found it on the adult non-fiction section and it turns out this is non-fiction intended for middle grade youngsters. But, even though I am old and stuff, I still charged ahead and read this one since it sounded interesting. This true life tale of the Cottingley Fairies is told from the perspective of the two youn ...more
Natalie Pietro
Aug 21, 2012 Natalie Pietro rated it it was amazing
Shelves: bio, faeries
When I saw this book I had it confused with Brian Froud's pressed fairy books. Being over joyed that Brian Froud had produced another beautiful fairy book I picked it up. Once home I was pleased to discover it was not Brian Froud's work but an audobiography about two cousins in 1920 who fooled the world with paper fairys. This book was delightful. I loved the sweet story of the young girls imagination. The lost photos of the girls with their fairys were classic and beautiful. I enjoyed learning ...more
Jul 06, 2012 Beverly rated it did not like it
There isn't much meat to this story of the Edwardian-era girls who photographed fairies, impressing Arthur Conan Doyle among others. Mary Losure's narration is jerky and marred by the type of foreshadowing made popular by Erik Larson in The Devil and the White City, only Losure makes the foreshadows and just drops them, having nothing more. One Goodreads reviewer suggests that this would have been better as a long-form picture book, and I agree. As it is, I think children will be disappointed.

May 06, 2012 Barbara rated it really liked it
When two girls, Frances, 9, and Elsie, 15, claim to see fairies near where they live in Cottingley, their parents press them for proof, and as a lark, they end up photographing paper fairy cutouts painted by Elsie and staged outdoors. They had no idea that so much attention would be stirred up by their photos and that even Sir Arthur Conan Doyle would find their photograph credible and beg to see one of the fairies. Perhaps most astounding of all is how the two managed to keep their secret for s ...more
Aug 26, 2012 Nicole rated it it was amazing
4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th Ok, I picked this up knowing I would have to trudge through another fairy story...I was in for a surprise. Not a fantasy at all, but a nonfiction story about two English girls that fooled the world with their photographs of fairies in the early 1900s. When Sir Arthur Conan Doyle becomes interested it isn't long before the world sees the photographs. Faking a total of 4 pictures and one "authentic" fairy photo. I have this book in my top faves of the year, though I know th ...more
Katie Bruce
Sep 29, 2012 Katie Bruce rated it really liked it
Shelves: j-nonfiction
A rather fascinating little book about two girls living in the English countryside during WWI who decided to take a photograph of fairies. One claimed to see real fairies around the seemingly magical creek behind their house and the other, being a fiercely loyal friend/cousin, defended her and said she saw them too. Unfortunately, this caused much teasing from family members. In order to shut them up, the plan to take a photo was hatched. One of the girls happened to be a talented artist...

The f
May 14, 2012 Molly rated it it was amazing
When cousins Elsie and Frances fake photographs of themselves with fairies beside the stream behind their cottage, they don’t think it's anything more than a joke on Elsie's dad. The "fairies" were just paper cut-outs! But things spin out of control when other grown-ups find out about the pictures -- and believe them. Amazingly, one of those duped adults is none other than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of the great detective Sherlock Holmes. The Fairy Ring vividly recounts this surprising and ...more
Elsie and Frances spent much of their summer on the banks of the waterfall behind Elsie’s house. Frances particularly liked it there, because she could see the fairies—not that her family believed her, until Elsie found a way to get photographs of them. Elsie's photos were enough to convince their families, some researchers, even Sherlock Holmes author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The photographs weren't faked… but were the fairies?

Narrative non-fiction for maybe 5th-8th grade readers, and an intrigu
Jun 10, 2012 Joann rated it really liked it
This is the kind of non-fiction that I find fascinating...its a wonderful story of two young girl's and their photos of imaginary fairies, that many came to believe in. the story unfolds in a simple, clear, compelling narrative, with nuance and detail. The original photos that accompany the text, are the originals that the girls took back in the 1920's. Just a small quibble, if the photos could have been closer to the text where they were mentioned, it would have been better...I found myself pag ...more
May 10, 2012 Karen rated it really liked it
In 1917, two young cousins in England who are tired of being teased, take fake photographs of themselves with fairies (actually painted cut-outs) as a joke. The "joke" gets out of control and people all over the world (including Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) begin to believe the photos are real. Not until the girls are elderly do they admit the photos were not real. The book reads almost like fiction, but in fact it is a true story -- all the more fascinating! Well-researched and well-written, the boo ...more
Apr 27, 2012 Cornmaven rated it really liked it
Shelves: juvenile, non-fiction
This is written for a juvenile audience, but I thoroughly enjoyed this story about two girls faking fairy photographs in the early 20th century. I had never heard of the incident, and was fascinated. There is an element of believing what you want in all of this, for Frances insisted to her grave that fairies in general were real, even though she knew what had happened with four of the five photographs. The fifth photograph is not explained very well, and I imagine that is because of the author's ...more
Mar 16, 2015 Alicia rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
1. Twin text for this book is "April Fool! Watch Out at School!" by Diane deGroat, copyright 2009
2. I thought the twin text for this book would be good because it focuses on pranks that Gilbert goes through at school on April Fool's Day and eventually how he is able to fool his good friend. Students will be able to compare this fiction story of pranks to the hoax that the cousins Elsie and Frances come up with to fool their parents and end up fooling the world. Together they can see how pranks s
Dec 07, 2014 M. rated it really liked it
Back during World War I and after, there was in England a great interest in spiritualism and in magical little people--fairies, trolls, etc. Two girls in rural England, tired of their families teasing them about seeing fairies down by their brook, staged a scene with painted fairies dancing in the grass and another with a tiny gnomelike creature. They photographed them to "prove" to their families that the fairies were really there. They didn't say, of course, that the photo was staged. Some yea ...more
Apr 12, 2014 Cheryl rated it liked it
Shelves: girls, nonfiction
This is the true story of the Cottingley (England) girls Elsie and Frances, who pulled over a hoax on the adults by using trick photography--pre Photoshop--to capture images of the fairies they claim to see in the nearby wood, in the early 20th century. Even adults used the pictures as proof of the existence of these fanciful creatures (Author A. Conan Doyle was one of them!). The author provides tons of back matter, exposing tons of research behind this slim volume. I read this with my book gro ...more
Sandy A
Apr 05, 2014 Sandy A rated it really liked it
In the book, "The Fairy Ring or Elsie and Frances Fool the World" by Mary Losure, the authors message or central idea is sometimes children with imagination can outsmart an adult with no imagination. This book took place in England in grassy and forrest ares where "the fairies" lived of coarse. The time was around the 1900s, the story is told by the author about Elsie and Frances, whom are which both the protagonists. "The Fairy Ring" was a very interesting book about two cousins, Elsie and Fran ...more
Nov 16, 2014 Sara rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Girls of all ages interested in girl power stories that aren't stupid
There aren't that many true stories about how an 11-year-old and 16-year-old girls cleverly get the best of all of established civilization, but this is one of them. And the best part about it is that it comes with truly beautiful photographs that are integral to the story.

I'm not sure if the entire book would engage a young reader. The beginning definitely draws you in with the skill of all the best of the child-out-of-their-elements beginning -- think Mary Lennox at the opening of A Secret Ga
Feb 19, 2014 Charlotte rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: girls 8-14
I liked this book.It was a really good book because it was astonishingly true. Yet I do not give it 5 stars since it is not a deep book with much internal flair and things you have to think about, for example, the author didn't describe how Frances and Elsie's souls felt when Mr. Hodson came over. Mr. Hodson was a seer and came to the girls to see the fairies to take pictures. But I was left wondering if Mr. Hodson's documents about the fairies upset the children, because the girls didn't want t ...more
Ann Keller
Jul 13, 2014 Ann Keller rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
Heartwarming story about two girls in war torn England, who concoct a fantastic hoax when they claim to see fairies in the woods near their home. In reality, the fairies are merely cleverly drawn and colored stick figures, small forms in the children's game of make believe. Unfortunately, word leaks out to the public and once the media seizes upon the story, the girls have little choice but to continue the ruse.

Even Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is intrigued by the girls' story. Interviews are conducte
Mandy Laferriere
Jan 23, 2014 Mandy Laferriere rated it it was ok
Shelves: middle-school

This could have been a great book, because it's a fascinating true story. In 1917, Frances moved to England to live with her older cousin Elsie and her family. One day the girls were playing in the field behind the house, and Frances swears that she sees fairies frolicking around. (Interestingly enough, even to her dying day, she maintained that her sightings were real.) On a whim, Elsie, who is an artist, draws a fairy, mounts it on a hat pin, and asks to take the family's camera into the field
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Why did everyone think the fairies were real when they looked like paper cut-outs? 3 10 Jan 25, 2013 07:27PM  
What did you think about the book? 1 5 Nov 02, 2012 12:52PM  
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I write true stories (a.k.a. nonfiction) with kids as the heroes. I love doing it. My latest book, though, is a middle grade fantasy, BACKWARDS MOON.

I am not, alas, a blogger but a reclusive author who hesitates to venture too far into the perilous world of GoodReads.

Instead, I'm working on my next book, a true story about a boy called ISAAC THE ALCHEMIST. It will be out in the fall of 2015.

It ta
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“For as long as she could remember, Frances’s parents has told her stories about England. But when she got there, the real England wasn’t like the stories at all.” 0 likes
“Memory is a funny thing sometimes.” 0 likes
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