In my childhood I was filled with creativity and always playing make believe. Books were wonderful (they still are!) but especially books that helped me become even more creative and could sweep me off to magical realms.
During a book fair, I bought Janet Taylor Lisle's book Afternoon of the Elves. I don't quite recall the story as it has been so many years but I do remember how much I loved it and that it was, simply put, magical. When I was presented with The Gold Dust Letters I thought of the previous book I read by Lisle and wanted to see if another book by the author lived up to my memories.
The Gold Dust Letters was published ages ago but that's neither here nor there. It's a children's book, probably suitable for kids who are able to read short chapter books, and filled with the type of magic I was addicted to as a child.
Angela decides, as children often will decide in such a spur of the moment, to write a letter to a fairy and to her surprise she receives a reply. Much like finding presents on Christmas morning or money under your pillow with the tooth your lost having vanished, the letters from the fairy come while Angela is asleep and seemingly completely by magic.
Enlisting her friends Georgina (who is bossy and rather a realist and doubter of such childish things as magic) and Poco (a strange little girl who swears she speaks to animals) they set out to prove whether or not Pilaria (our fairy friend) exists.
Amongst the excitement of fairy magic there are real life situations that our dear friend Angela has to deal with. Her parents' marriage seems to be falling apart and Angela's father seems cold and distant. Not fully understanding what is going on, Angela distances herself from her father but it's obvious that the events in her family bother her. I recall as a child in elementary school a lot of children's parents going through divorces or having marital struggles. I don't know if it is common for that to happen when children or that age but as I was reading this book I wondered what my friends would have thought in third or fourth grade if they had this book to read.
There is certainly a destruction then rebuilding of the relationship between Angela and her father which is comforting and sweet and while things may not end perfectly at the end of this tale the girls still have magic in their hearts and their friendship is better than ever.
I approve of any book that handles multiple situations that can capture the attention of a child, especially something as confusing as seeing your parents slowly separate or work through issues. Adding magic to it, and that the magic never fully goes away, is something to help balance that.
While this book didn't sweep me off as Afternoon of the Elves did when I was a child, I imagine it would have if I was still that young.