Monday, 13 April 2015

The Fairy Force: Book Review and Giveaway

It's no secret that fairies are a big deal here at Where Wishes HQ. We have lots of fairy related adventures, celebrations and even have our very own house-fairy, Leaf. We adopted Leaf through The Irish Fairy Door Company and he's become an important part of our family since. He's never left out of any seasonal celebrations and gets lots of notes and treats left out for him. In return he often leaves little notes and treats, of his own, for Lile and Sábha. He also earns his keep by blowing away any bad dreams that might come to frighten them in the night.


I was thrilled when the Irish Fairy Door Company asked me to review their newest book - The Fairy Force - and knew the girls would love to get their hands on it and share their thoughts too. We really enjoyed their first book -The Fairy Who Saved Christmas - and had high hopes for this one.

The story focuses on a fairy called Henry who is struggling to keep his human friend Ben's bad dreams at bay. When he realises he is no longer able to help his beloved friend, he calls for help from the most qualified bad-dream-fighting fairies in all the world -

ff logo

These highly-trained fairies arrive and, using some special tools and a bit of magic, set about dispelling Ben's bad dreams for good. It turns out to be a bigger task than they thought but this exciting, fast-paced story emphasizes how asking for help is the best thing to do, and these elite fairies manage to help both fairy and human in the end.


Lile and Sábha really enjoyed the story and there were a few things which, having a house fairy of their own, they could really identify with. They loved that a boy-fairy featured as the main character, because our fairy is a boy too. Fairies are predominantly depicted as female, so it was fantastic to see a male in that lead-role. 

My girls had a stay-at-home-daddy for the first four years of their life and also have a male carer in preschool. They are used to seeing men in a caring role and I think this is hugely important in this day and age, when gender equality is still seen as something to aspire to. I was really delighted to have the message that boys can be tender, caring and even frightened, reinforced in a hugely entertaining way.

During my first reading of the story (we've read it several times since!) there were audible gasps at various points from the girls. It really is edge-of-your-seat stuff at some parts of the story, but in case that might put you off choosing it as a bedtime story, I can assure you that it finishes in a way that won't leave your child with Ben's bad dreams.

Lile and Sábha were also extremely excited to see that Ben, or rather Henry, had the exact same fairy door as our friend Leaf. 

See!


This magical story has been written by Aoife Lawler and features hand painted illustrations by Finn Daly. There are 36 pages of pictures and text, with full colour illustrations throughout. It's a story to be enjoyed, by boys and girls, over and over again.


To buy your own copy, for just €7.95, you can click HERE or look out for it at your local book/toy shop. Be sure to follow The Irish Fairy Door Company on Facebook and Twitter too, for the latest news from The National Fairy Council.

The generous people at the Irish Fairy Door Company have also provided me with a copy of The Fairy Force to give away to one of my lovely readers - so please enter the competition, using the gadget below if you'd like to be in with a chance to win.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I was provided with a copy of The Fairy Force for the purposes of review and another copy to give away. All opinions are my own (and my girls'!) and I was not paid to give them.

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To discover more fairy-fun on this blog you can click HERE!

To discover where you can find fairies in the wild - click HERE!

Monday, 6 April 2015

Fairy and Unicorn Party - Featuring REAL UNICORNS!


Lile and Sábha chose a Fairy and Unicorn theme for their fifth birthday party. As you can imagine, I was pretty happy with this decision. I mean Fairies AND Unicorns? It's the perfect theme! The apple doesn't fall far from the tree, I guess.

I immediately came up with a million ideas for the party... and then remembered that my children are only five and simple is better when entertaining a gang of young children. Also, there was the small issue of budget... as in, the budget was very small. So I followed my own advice (for once!) and pared back the ideas, focusing on the three key elements of any party - Decor, Activities, Food. 

One other element of this party, that made the day as successful as it was, was the choice of location. We hired a room in a little wooden chalet in one of my favourite places in the world - Festina Lente - otherwise known as my Secret Garden. It's the first time I've hosted a birthday party outside of my own (tiny) home and I was so thrilled to have the space and the support of the amazing staff there to realise all of my crazy notions for my little girls' birthday. 

Decoration: 

The venue dictated the decor somewhat. As in - we didn't really need much! The wooden room was already charming and had fairy lights strung outside. I hung some bunting, and brought our unicorn hobby-horses and some unicorn soft toys for the smallest guests to enjoy and that was that! I had planned on bringing balloons - but we were asked not to, as apparently, our surprise guests are not fans of balloons - who knew?

Activities:

I always like to have a craft activity at birthday parties (surprise, surprise). It helps settle the children in and gives the party a nice calm beginning. I had a selection of on-theme, colouring sheets ready to do during the 'everyone arriving' bit which was also proved a great opportunity to introduce the children to each other. 


We also made some Flying Fairies. I'll do a tutorial for these at some stage and link to it from here - but in a nutshell - we made some simple fairies from tissue paper, pipecleaners, foam shapes and a few stick-on jewels. We tied them, with gold thread, to sticks so that they could 'fly'. They were a huge hit with all of the children - boys and girls.


After we had finished making the fairies we brought them out into the gardens on a Flying Fairy Treasure Hunt. I had taken photographs around the garden earlier in the week, printed them out and hidden them in coloured envelopes as clues. I used photographs rather than written clues because most of the guests can't read yet. There were seven clues in total that took them on a big run around the grounds and finished off under the fairy wishing tree -where they found a bag of gold coins to share, as a prize.

I was about to hand each child a ribbon to tie to the tree while they made a wish when there was a sudden, loud gasp from one of the little girls. We all turned around and saw twin, baby UNICORNS coming our way!


The kids nearly lost their minds with excitement. So did all the adults, in fairness.

From very early on I was determined to have at least one big surprise at the party - a visit from a REAL LIVE UNICORN. I know. I don't ask for much. But, one of the (many) reasons I chose Festina Lente as the location was that there are stables on site and I had heard a rumour that there might be some unicorns living there. Imagine my delight when I discovered that there were twin unicorns - just the right size for my own sweet twins?!


The unicorns even came to the party room and each child got a chance to meet them both, give them a gentle pet and have their photo taken with them.


Sábha and Lile were beyond thrilled. Their visit really made the day.



Food:

After all that excitement it was time for food! The keep costs down I put together a treat box for each child. This made sure that each child got exactly the same amount of treats but also meant that each child could eat at their own pace, or even save some to bring home. There was also rice krispie cakes, 'top-hats', cookies and the birthday cake, of course, which was topped with Fairy and Unicorn Playmobil figures we already owned.


Favours:

Lile and Sábha helped me make the favours this year. We made 'Unicorn horns' filled with jellybeans. These were so easy to make. We used waffle cones, dipped them in melted white chocolate and covered them with sprinkles and edible glitter. I then used disposable piping bags to present them and added a label which the girls had drawn fairies on. Simple, cheap and really effective!


The entire cost for the party, including the venue hire, the food and the visit from the unicorns came in at under €150. Which I would consider good value for the sheer magic the day brought and the looks on my girls faces throughout. I think it also proves that you don't need a huge budget to have a party with wow factor - just a bit of imagination, some willing accomplices and maybe a touch of madness.

Big thanks to Andrea and Síofra at Festina Lente, for indulging my madness, and to all our family and friends for making the day especially fabulous for Lile and Sábha.

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