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The Fairy Ring

3.49  ·  Rating details ·  945 ratings  ·  225 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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3.49  · 
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 ·  945 ratings  ·  225 reviews

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Monica Edinger
Mar 02, 2012 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 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
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
Jun 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Great, easy to understand book about the truth behind the famous Cottingley fairy photos. Perfect for older children or even adults who want basic facts with a few photos and written in an interesting way.
Apr 03, 2017 rated it it was ok
I did not care very much for the book The Fairy Ring or Elsie and Frances Fool the World because, it was very dry and bland it needed something to dress it up a little bit. What I did like is that the author, Mary Losure, incorporated actual pictures of Elsie and Frances with the "faeries". I, personally, wouldn't recommend this book to anyone because, the whole book is just like reading a really long news paper article, but about faeries. It is my belief that Frances and Elsie are total brats, ...more
Katherine Tingen
Dec 07, 2017 rated it liked it
#6 “The Fairy Ring” by May Losure was an incredible tale of two girls who lived in Yorkshire and Cottingley, England. When Frances moves to England to live with her cousin Elsie strange things start to happen. When Frances finds fairies and gnomes by the beck she tells her family. When they tease Frances over the fairies; Elsie makes fairy out of watercolors and together they take pictures of them meeting the fairies. When reports start coming to Frances home, she and Elsie make a promise to kee ...more
Jan 31, 2012 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 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
Apr 30, 2017 added it
Shelves: nonfiction
Mary Losure's book about two girls who accidentally fooled the world into thinking they had encountered fairies in the town of Cottingley in England showcases how much the things that we believe can form the core of who we are, and how, in our zeal to maintain our identity, we can sometimes flock to untruths that confirm out bias or find ourselves fooled by con artists. In the case of these girls, the photos were a joke that spun out of control when Arthur Conan Doyle declared the photos to be r ...more
Aug 15, 2019 rated it liked it
I remembered this book while I was reading THE COTTINGLEY SECRET by Hazel Gaynor. I love this book because the pictures are so beautiful (even if they are faked) and the author does a terrific job of tracing the entire story. We learn what it must have been like for Elsie and Frances as their story got out to the wider world and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (of all people) so wanted to believe it. The girls grew into women who kept mum for a very long time. And again, we (the readership) are left with ...more
Richie Partington
Sep 29, 2012 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
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
Nicola Mansfield
May 02, 2012 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.
Carlin S
Apr 14, 2014 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
Tahlia Newland
Apr 18, 2012 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
Mary Ann
Jan 21, 2012 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
Jessica Haider
May 28, 2012 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
Jul 06, 2012 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 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
Natalie Pietro
Aug 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: faeries, bio
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
May 14, 2012 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
Katie Bruce
Sep 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kids-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
Aug 26, 2012 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
May 10, 2012 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
Jun 10, 2012 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
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
Apr 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, juvenile
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
Rheetha Lawlor
May 20, 2018 rated it liked it
I thought this book would be more in depth, but knowing now that it is probably a middle grade level book, I'm deeming it a three star. I am hopefully soon going to read Cottingley Secret as I find it fascinating that two young girls have duped the world, with Sir Author Conan Doyle at the helm of those who were tricked. I wanted to get some background information before I read the book, and this was a very quick, basic read about the actual event. It's good, the pictures are interesting (to say ...more
Taylor Guffey
Dec 08, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: kenny-s-class
Even though this was not my favorite nonfiction book, I thought the topic of fairies and the possibility of them being real was fascinating and fun. Written as a story, this book made learning about an incident in history (the fairy photograph hoax) more interesting than reading from a textbook. I was also surprised to find out that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (author of Sherlock Holmes) believed in fairies! I would definitely consider this a good nonfiction alternative to history and science focused ...more
Jul 12, 2018 rated it it was ok
I'm not sure who the audience is for this book. It's written in a very elementary style, but there's way too much information for the elementary age group. Yes, I could be underestimating the elementary reading level, but if they are reading that much then they deserve better writing.
Informative, but not very entertaining.
It made me sad to learn why it was so important that fairies are real for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
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Why did everyone think the fairies were real when they looked like paper cut-outs? 3 12 Jan 25, 2013 07:27PM  
What did you think about the book? 1 6 Nov 02, 2012 12:52PM  

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Mary Losure writes innovative nonfiction (and the occasional fantasy) for kids.

Her latest book, ISAAC THE ALCHEMIST: SECRETS OF ISAAC NEWTON, REVEAL’D, has received three starred reviews.

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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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