I’ve taken to calling November “Building a Library‘s Month of Failure” around the house. First, my daughter tells me that she wants to “pause” our reading of The Phantom Tollbooth. (Sigh.) Next, she tells me that she doesn’t want me to read her any more chapter books at bedtime, even though my wife – my wife who, in case you were wondering, did NOT start a blog all about how much she loves sharing books with her daughter – gets to read her Harry Freakin’ Potter at bedtime, a book that my kid is LOVING. And, finally, THIS happens…
My daughter, who is lovely and amazing and is such a fantastic reader, comes to me and says, “I want to write a fan letter to my favorite author.”
I perked up IMMEDIATELY. She’d never asked to do this before.
“That’s great!” I said. “Who are we writing to?” In my head, I began thinking about how I could get the mailing addresses for Lane Smith, Kate DiCamillo, Cressida Cowell, Mo Willems, Adam Rex, the estates of Shel Silverstein or Roald Dahl, etc. And then she hit me with the bombshell.
“I want to write a fan letter to Daisy Meadows who writes the Rainbow Fairy Books.”
MONTH. OF. FAILURE.
“SERIOUSLY?” I replied in an immature tone, practically guaranteed to send her further into Daisy Meadows‘ open and waiting arms. “She is seriously not your favorite author. Seriously. She’s not, right?”
“I like her books,” my daughter responded in a firm and even voice. “I want to write her a fan letter.”
And, because I am a patient and tolerant daddy and because we’ve been trying to encourage our daughter to practice her handwriting more often, I sighed and said, “I’ll go get the lined paper.”
Here is the finished fan letter in question, which, admittedly, is insanely cute:
So, why am I in such a fit over something so adorable? Well, for those of you unfamiliar with Ms. Daisy Meadows, let me explain why my daughter’s request had such an impact on me.
Daisy Meadows does not, in fact, EXIST.
She’s a corporate creation, a myth, a collective pseudonym for a group of ghost writers who churn out adventure after adventure in the Rainbow Magic series of beginning chapter books. Now, I’ll admit, if she told me she wanted to write a fan letter to, let’s say, Carolyn Keene, the collective alias used by all the authors who’ve written Nancy Drew books over the years, I wouldn’t have had a problem. Because Nancy Drew is a smart, independent role model and “Rainbow Fairies”… just sound like an antiquated post-feminist nightmare.
Rainbow Magic™ is an international publishing phenomenon, capturing the attention of young readers around the world since 2003. With over 100 titles to date, the biggest girls’ brand in series fiction follows the exciting adventures of two young girls, Rachel and Kirsty, as they help their fairy friends seize their stolen magic back from Fairyland’s troublesome Jack Frost. Whether hunting for magical moonstones or tackling naughty goblins, the two best friends always have lots of fun.
YEAH. And there is a seemingly endless amount of Rainbow Magic books out there, all broken down into sub-series focused on the Rainbow Fairies, the Princess Fairies, the Weather Fairies, the Jewel Fairies, the Pet Keeper Fairies, the Fun Day Fairies, the Petal Fairies, the Dance Fairies, the Sporty Fairies, the Music Fairies, the Musical Animal Fairies, the Green Fairies, the Ocean Fairies, the Twilight Fairies…
They just keep coming, wave after wave, like zombies or the Borg.
But there are kids, for whatever reason, that legitimately love these books. They’re quick reads, they’re disposable, they’re sparkly and shiny, you can find them at Target, and… they’re CRAP. Have I mentioned that yet? That they’re complete crap?
Granted, they’re not the worst thing I’ve ever read and there is a basic storytelling competence to the books that has to be acknowledged, but they’re definitely not good. They’re simplistic, they’re formulaic, and they pander, pander, pander. It’s like they just grab a bunch of popular market-tested keywords for the young girl demographic (Horses! Shiny! Magic! Shoes!), throw them together, and then, six weeks later, they publish “Shiny Boots the Magic Horse Fairy: A Rainbow Magic Adventure #347.”
“Kirsty, look up there!”
Kirsty stood up and clutched Rachel’s hand in excitement.
“That looks like fairy dust!” she exclaimed. “Oh, Rachel, do you think we’re about to have another adventure?”
“Let’s find out!” Rachel said.
The girls hurried toward the trees. They were friends with the fairies who lived in Fairyland, and often helped out when Jack Frost caused trouble. Maybe the fairies needed their help again!
(Daisy Meadows has, apparently, never met an exclamation point that she didn’t LOVE!!!)
So, that’s not awful, but it isn’t very good, right? And the idea of my daughter writing a fan letter to a registered trademark – a letter that will, at best, land on the desk of a marketing intern and be responded to with a form letter and a coupon code for online Rainbow Bucks – it really bothered me.
But, as I’ve found out again and again, Father does not always know best, so, out of respect for my daughter, here are the reasons why I let her write that letter:
- According to Wikipedia (which did cite their sources in this case), the “Rainbow Magic books by Daisy Meadows were the most-borrowed children’s books at libraries in the United Kingdom, and the second-most borrowed books overall at those libraries, for 2010 and 2011.” Sure, popularity doesn’t necessarily indicate quality, but there’s obviously SOMETHING about these books that is resonating with kids.
- I have to keep reminding myself that, when my daughter first started reading Easy Reader books on her own, a large majority of those titles were pretty underwhelming too. There were a few standout Easy Reader series for developing readers (looking at you, Elephant & Piggie), but most were simple, dull, and based on a TV show, toyline, or movie. But even those milquetoast Easy Readers appealed to my daughter in such a way that they DID actually encourage her to read independently.
- My daughter was introduced to the Rainbow Magic books by an older friend whom she adores, a friend that read the Fairy Books aloud to her and made them seem so vibrant and fun in her retellings.
- Thanks to the endorsement from her older friend and all the sparkly, glittery covers, my daughter picked out her first Rainbow Magic Fairy Book and read it to us. ALOUD. It was over a period of several days, but, as much as it pains me to admit it, Selena the Sleepover Fairy was the very first chapter book that my daughter read OUT LOUD, ALL THE WAY THROUGH, BY HERSELF.
That last bullet point is the important one. I might not understand the appeal of the Rainbow Magic Industrial Complex, but, for whatever reason, at this point and time, they are actually inspiring my daughter to read independently. And that’s amazing.
I will never admit that they’re good books, because they’re quite clearly not, but I will let my daughter read them (in moderation) and, if she wants to write a fan letter to a corporate ghost with a ridiculous pen name to thank them for creating a book that she really wanted to read… so be it.
Yes, it might feel like a failure now, but, if spending some time with Ms. Daisy Meadows lets my daughter develop the reading skills that will one day let help her read Anne of Green Gables, Matilda, or maybe even The Phantom Tollbooth on her own, I have to be willing to lose this battle in order to win the greater reading war down the road.
So, all that being said – Does anyone know how to mail a fan letter to Fairyland?