Gemma is excited about her science project. She hopes to get the popular topic of butterflies to research, but is disappointed when she receives march flies. Fellow student Nina receives butterflies, but Gemma has an advantage with her mother, an entomologist, lending her a special bug catcher. The bug catcher can magnify small insects and has a microphone and earbuds for recording sound. These can be downloaded on to a computer for further research. When Gemma begins looking for march flies, she comes across another small living being she did not expect. For in the school yard, safe from insecticides, lives a community of fairies. Gemma traps Janomi, a young fairy, and learns of their plight against the silver spiders led by the nasty Queen Bernini. Janomi has allowed herself to be captured, breaking the most important rule of not communicating with humans, but with the threat from the spiders, and with Papa Faff missing, she can see no other alternative. She must get help. Janomi has found the right girl to call upon, however when the recording of their conversation falls into the wrong hands, the secrecy Gemma has promised is broken, leading the fairies and the school community into a dangerous situation.
This is Fleur Ferris’s first book for younger readers, and what a wonderful read it is! There is mystery and intrigue in this rural setting. The characters are authentic and resolutions realistic. The parallels between Gemma and Nina’s relationship, and Janomi and her best friend Elna, will not be lost on young readers.
This will make a great read aloud and should be in every primary and public library. It is a joy to read and with Briony Stewart’s gorgeous illustrations, will be a firm favourite of many readers for years to come.
Many thanks to Penguin Random House for supplying this copy for review.