In the Fairy Realm Series by Emily Rodda (HarperCollins, 2003-2007) Jessie loves to visit her Granny.The two of them are so much alike. Jessie has inherited red hair, green eyes, and the love of make-believe from her grandmother. Behind her Granny’s big country house is a tiny stretch of lawn enclosed by hedges that Jessie calls “the secret garden” where she goes to think. In the first story she discovers that this place is actually a door to the Fairy Realm.

This series of ten books is crafted to captivate a child’s imagination. Emily Rodda’s prose is elegant in its description of landscapes, moods, and people. The vibrant full-color covers and skillful, black-and-white drawings by artist Raoul Vitale are intriguing. I know one child who daydreamed over the drawings before she could read the stories.

We find out in the first book that Granny Jessica is the rightful Queen of the Realm. Fifty years earlier, a young artist discovered a door and went to visit Fairy Realm. He painted wonderful scenes and became famous—his work hanging in art galleries and printed in books. He also fell in love with Jessica, and brought her back to this world as his wife.

Now their granddaughter Jessie may move between the two worlds at will. In each story, there is some problem in the Realm that she must solve. She usually does it using “good, human common sense”. To reward her after each adventure, Queen Helena (Jessica’s younger sister who rules the realm in her stead) gives Jessie a commemorative gold charm for her bracelet.

The stories are imaginative and fun, inviting children into another world of beautiful magic and friendly people. Children visit a palace; see unicorns, mermaids, gnomes, sprites, fairies, griffins, miniature talking horses, elves, and more!

In books 1 (The Charm Bracelet) and 6 (The Unicorn), there is a strong sense of threat and danger to people in both worlds, brought by the villainous Valda, who wants to gain control of the Realm from her cousins. Book 1 mentions the two recent natural deaths of Jessie’s grandfather and father. In book 6, Valda is touched by the unicorn’s horn and vanishes in a flash, because in the Realm, a unicorn’s touch destroys all evil.

Book 8, The Water Sprites, is not as much fun as others because there is constant squabbling and the reader doesn’t get much of a rest.

Book 10, The Rainbow Wand, ties up all the loose strings in the series in surprising ways. It has a sense of tension ending with hope. In between the reader finds all the beautiful elements of story they have come to love.

Jessie has a strong relationship with her mother and grandmother, as well as fond memories of her grandfather. She attends school, has neighbors, and deals with child-sized problems, overcoming them with courage. Sometimes children feel tired after school, sports, lessons, and the struggles of their young lives. These books help them realize they can be brave at any age not only in the world of imagination but also in the real world. This series provides happy escapes that give readers positive and hopeful feelings about life.

Averaging slightly over 100 pages, these chapter books are marketed for children ages 6-10/grades 2-5. The series is out of print, but you can still find them in libraries, at used bookstores and online at Amazon and at Barnes & Noble.

Donna Fujimoto is a graduate of Alliance Theological Seminary. She has published both devotionals for adults and short stories for teens. Her children love to read.

Mrs. Fujimoto has a collection of short stories, 9 Slightly Strange Stories with an Uplifting Edge, available as an e-reader at Amazon. Find our review under “N” in the alphabetical listing: Titles We’ve Reviewed.