Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Similarities between "Fairy Spell" and my superhero creator books

My latest book, Fairy Spell: How Two Girls Convinced the World That Fairies Are Real, shares certain narrative elements with two other nonfiction picture books I wrote, Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman and Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman.

Yes, both fairies and (some) superheroes fly, but there is more to this comparison.

Both Fairy Spell and Boys of Steel take place on the cusp of war (Fairy at the end of WWI, Boys at the start of WWII). Both are about giving hope to people in a time of grief. For some, the Cottingley fairies reaffirmed the belief that we didn't yet know all about the natural (and supernatural) world, which provided solace to those who wanted a way to try to reconnect with sons they lost in the war. Superman served as a patriotic inspiration to troops overseas—a morale booster with muscles.

Both Fairy Spell and Bill the Boy Wonder include a central figure who sought out the spotlight (though to differing degrees). Elsie Wright, the older of the two cousins who took the Cottingley fairies photos, told multiple versions of the story behind the fifth and final photo (see Reflections on the Cottingley Fairies, page 90) and arguably was more calculated than her younger cousin Frances Griffiths in keeping up the ruse. Cartoonist Bob Kane was notorious for embellishing (or simply lying about) his role in Batman (i.e. dismissing writer Bill Finger) and kept the lone-creator myth afloat his whole career. Elsie, however, did not remotely approach Bob's craving for glory. Elsie died after Frances, Bob died after Bill.

And both feature creators of famous detectives—Sherlock Holmes (Fairy) and Batman (Bill).

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