Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Non-Fiction Wednesday - Hoax or Not?

art by Sarah S. Brannen

      Visit Alyson Beecher on Wednesdays for Non-Fiction Picture Books at Kidlit Frenzy.  From her post and others, you will discover and want to celebrate terrific nonfiction picture books! 

           It's the true story of British cousins who fooled the world for more than 60 years with a remarkable hoax, photographs of “real” fairies.

          There are the photos (see the cover) and there is the time toward the end of World War I when most had no idea how a camera worked or how to use one. Elsie and Frances Griffiths (cousins) tell their parents they saw fairies near their cottage, down near the stream where they often sat, played, and dreamed. Frances and her mother lived with Aunt Polly and Uncle Arthur and cousin Elsie because their father was serving in the war. They insisted if only Uncle Arthur would allow them to use his camera, they could prove it. When he gave them permission, they finally got the (rather convincing, but faked) photo to prove it. Elsie's father dismissed them as "stories", but the mother (Polly) thought Elise and Frances were telling the truth. The hoax was a mild success, but blew up when Polly showed them to Edward Gardner, who put them in the hands of Arthur Conan Doyle who made the photos famous, running them in the popular Strand magazine. 

         The hoax lasted for decades until 81-year-old Elise admitted the deception. Frances would never admit to it but insisted that there really were fairies. Illustrations include lots of action from the woods, stream, and fairies, along with pictures of primary documents like newspapers and photographs. 

        Back matter includes an author’s note and bibliography. Considering this took place long before social media, it is an important lesson in discovering who and what to believe through further research. It will bring loads of questions and, with research, more contemporary examples, too.


  1. Replies
    1. Yes! I think we often like the same books, Annette. Thanks!

  2. My fifth grade students really enjoyed this one. Me too of course.


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