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Thursday, March 31, 2016

Bloom, written by Doreen Cronin and illustrated by David Small. A Caitlyn Dlouhy Book, Athenium Books for Young Readers. Simon & Schuster, 2016. $22.99 ages 5 and up

"Genevieve did not want to fail the queen. She closed her eyes, stuck her hands in the bucket, and pulled out a scoop of wet, gloppy earth. Nervously, she shook her hands, and the mud fell to the ground, splattering everywhere. "Not bad!" said Bloom with a smile. Genevieve laughed and brushed the splatters off her feet."

Bloom is the keeper of the castle in a glass kingdom. She is not the magic fairy you would expect to find there. Instead she is constantly dirty, loves mud, and plods through life with that lovely muck stuck to her feet and trailing behind her. Residents of the realm are more disgusted by the dirt than they are pleased with the fairy's magic.

Fed up with the constant reprimands, Bloom takes her leave and is off to find happiness in the forest. Everyone seems mightily pleased with her decision - until the kingdom begins to fall down around them and the King remembers that there was once a creature who had the power to keep it in repair. He sets off to find Bloom. When Bloom offers mud as the solution to the problems faced, the king rides back to his realm in disgust. The queen's quest to lure Bloom back is equally ineffective.

The royals decide to send an 'ordinary' girl to lure Bloom back. Genevieve is of small stature with a very quiet voice, the polar opposite of Bloom. She won't let her rulers down. Off she heads to the forest to find the fairy. Bloom's solution remains the same - mud! Genevieve is confused. Bloom is interested in the girl and asks about her work in the castle. When told Genevieve cares only for the queen's crystal spoon, Bloom is aghast.

Genevieve explains that it is because she is 'ordinary' that she was sent to talk to Bloom. It is all Bloom needs to hear to give her the help she is requesting. And, Genevieve loves it all! In making the magic that will be required to bring the kingdom back from ruin, she also learns much about herself, and once her work is completed she returns to the monarchs with a message from Bloom:

"Tell them there is no such thing as an ordinary girl," said Bloom."  

David Small's splendid watercolor and ink images bring the kingdom to energetic life. The warm colors and detailed drawings herald a world that is sure to awe those who share this book. Expressive,  magical, and witty to boot, they are a perfect match to Ms. Cronin's thoughtful take on the fairy tale framework and the magic that comes from hard work and a desire to learn.

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