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The Fairies of Nutfolk Wood

Press:Harpercollins Childrens Books Katherine Tegen Books; 1st edition (May 23, 2006)
Publication Date:2006-6
Author Name:Barb Bentler Ullman


Welcome toNutfolk Wood population 52In the country town of Plunkit, where Willa and her mom start anew after her parents' divorce, Willa catches sight of a strange sparkle by the creek and in the old woods. 
Her older-than-old neighbor, Hazel Wicket, has an amusing story about these surroundings and an imagined family of tiny people that inhabit a tree stump.
Willa knows there's no such thing as fairies, but when she spots more and more oddities around her, she can't stop an itchy feeling that there's some certainty to Hazel's curious tales of the Nutfolk.Barb Bentler Ullman's fine first novel shares a special magic -- behind which hard truth and hidden wisdom await discovery.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Gr. 
Worn thin and ill by stress, 10-year-old Willa is eager to move out of her spiteful grandmother's house after her parents divorce.
After she and her mother move into a trailer in the woods, they meet Hazel, a kind, eccentric old woman who lives nearby.
During the summer, Hazel watches Willa while her mother works, and Willa assists Hazel with her chores, which helps the child grow stronger.
Willa also begins to read between the lines of Hazel's many stories.
Soon they share a secret: a band of woodland fairies called the Nutfolk lives in the woods, invisible to all but a few.
When humans threaten their unseen neighbors, Willa and Hazel fight back.
With so many fantasies set in vaguely medieval realms, it's refreshing to find one with a homey American backdrop.
Ullman's first novel affirms homespun, American values as well, such as the benefits of physical work and nature; Hazel's advice on scaring spiders from the privy and the details of doing laundry pioneer-style are as involving as the particulars of the Nutfolk's cabins, clothes, and magic.
A convincing first-person narrative with the wholesome appeal of fresh-baked bread.
Carolyn PhelanCopyright © American Library Association.
All rights reserved


“A convincing first-person narrative with the wholesome appeal of fresh-baked bread.” (ALA Booklist (starred review))“Readers overwhelmed by the world’s complexities will find solace in Ullman’s endearing first novel…” (Publishers Weekly)

About the Author

Barb Bentler Ullman is the author of the highly praised The Fairies of Nutfolk Wood. 
She lives with her family—husband Jim, two daughters, and a vicious kitty named Apricot—in a house that her husband built in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains of Washington State.
"My daughter Sara once came up with the idea for an American woodland fairy.
She was glue-gunning acorns together and calling them ‘nut babies.' They resided in pretty places in our woods, living quiet, natural lives.
One thing led to another."

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Children's Books,Growing Up & Facts of Life,Family Life,Marriage & Divorce,Moving,Fairy Tales, Folk Tales & Myths

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Comment List (Total:14)

  •     I purchased this book as a gift for a 13 year old that likes fairies but I had read it to make sure it was appropriate. I enjoyed quite a bit . It's a very engaging story.

  •     My daughter and I read this book and we yawned the entire way. I did feel it was best to finish it, and that we did.

  •     Not too long ago I found myself trying to convince people that Shannon Hale's "The Princess Academy" was actually a really good and well-written book in spite of its ootsy-cutesy title. Now, holding "The Fairies of Nutfolk Wood" in my hands as well, I see that I may have to fight the same danged battle with Barb Bentler Ullman's new book as well. I can't think of a title (always excepting "The Princess Academy", of course) that quite as effectively will turn off any kid with a low tolerance for adorableness. Of course, I understand the reasoning from a marketing standpoint. Fairies are, and evermore shall be, hot stuff. My husband took one look at the book and said to me, "There's nothing I haven't seen before on that cover". This is partly the fault of the title. What allows "Nutfolk Wood" to stand out, however, is the fact that in this book the fairies aren't half as interesting as the humans' daily lives and activities. In fact, I kept feeling rather disappointed whenever something magical occurred, if only because it took away from what I felt was the real action. Nonetheless, it's clear that Ullman has a gift with the old pen. This is undoubtedly the first in what will someday be a long and excellent authorial career.Willa's parents have just gone through a rather scorching divorce and it's taken it toll on their delicate daughter's constitution. Now the poor kid feels nauseous half the time, she can't eat, and she's sick of living in the city with her mom and nasty Grandma Cookie. It's time to take a trip into the country, and so Willa and her mother do. While living with Uncle Andrew far from the city, the small family discovers a dilapidated old trailer that's on sale for cheap. They also discover a wonderful new neighbor in the form of one Ms. Hazel Wicket. While her mother is away during the day, Willa now helps out Hazel in her home and listens to stories of the fairies that live in their woods. At first Willa enjoys hearing the stories for their own sake, but soon it becomes clear that there may be more than a grain of truth to the tales. After all, didn't the girl have a dream about coming to this place long before she moved into the country? Didn't she see a trillium flower grow right before her eyes and a small person tend to it? Wasn't that a small house she spotted in her own backyard not two days ago? It may be that there's more to Willa's new home than meets the eye. But as places go, this isn't a bad one to call "home".For a while, I couldn't figure out how this book was going to keep going without a villain of any sort. In stories of this persuasion, usually there's some nasty bad guy just lurking around the corner ready to (in the case of such novels as these) kidnap the fairies and put them to use or something along those lines. Here there's not so much villainy as misplaced grief. At one point the fairies' home is threatened, but that's simply because two members of a neighboring family are dealing with the death of their beloved wife/mother in unproductive ways.It's odd in a way that Willa keeps searching for 100% proof positive that the fairies exist when the sheer conglomeration of coincidences should prove it to her right there and then. Actually, the book this reminded me the most of was Mary Norton's classic, "The Borrowers" series. In both books a female character hears stories of small people from an older female friend but rarely sees the tiny people in question. In this particular case, Ullman is not looking to classic English fairy lore with its malevolent sprites and nasty tendencies. These fairies are essentially harmless happy innocents. It's a rather simple view of fairies, one that lots of younger children may prefer to believe in. Fans of books like "The Spiderwick Chronicles" by Holly Black or "Troll Fell', by Katherine Langrish will perhaps find this tale too tame by their standards. For many, the real lure of this tale will be its real-life elements. It's wonderful hearing how Willa deals with her parents divorce, the fixing up of a nasty old trailer, and her mother's desire to purchase and reconfigure a bookstore in the nearby town. Also, watching Willa go through some basic chores at Hazel's house (everything from using the outhouse to baking bread) is told in an incredibly comfortable, easy-going manner.What Ullman does particularly well is descriptions. The feel of Willa's new trailer home room, the beauty of Hazel's gardens, the peaceful quality to the woods, all of this is described in such a irresistable tone of voice than I wouldn't be surprised if more than one city kid who reads this book suddenly gets a flash-in-the-pan desire to go live in the country too. All in all, reading "The Fairies of Nutfolk Wood" is like putting on a comfortable pair of shoes. It just fits. Kids who love fairies will not be disappointed and kids who find the title a trifle silly will also find stuff in this book to love. The fairies are a teensy bit silly by today's standards, but for some kids they'll still find something to enjoy.

  •     My 9 year old daughter and I just finished reading this book and we both really liked it. Often it is hard to find books that are fitting for her reading level, but this one fits...

  •     I love this book! I've read it twice and my son has also read it. I need to just buy it because I'd like to read it again. If you like books with fairies, you'll love this one.

  •     A sweet little tale about friendship and magic and faith. Willa's new friend Hazel brought me back to an elderly neighbor in my own childhood who tended a wild garden and seemed...

  •     My son (9) and I read this aloud together and both loved it. It's a hopeful book about life after divorce, without really being about the divorce.

  •     I loved this book! Readers will enjoy the easy pace which encourages page-turning as the story's heroine, Willa, unravels the mystery of whether or not magic exists in her woods. Willa's world has totally turned upside down with her parents' divorce, then relocation with her mother. Dealing with emerging fears and feelings, Willa finds new friends (perhaps more than she knows about) who help her find her place in the world once again.This book is a wonderful instrument to use as a conversation starter for topics such as divorce, friendship, coming-of-age issues and recognizing that senior citizens offer valuable gifts of wisdom if youngsters take the time to pay attention.As someone who usually sticks to non-fantasy fiction, the author's suggestion and exploration of magical fairies allows the reader to draw their own conclusions.I highly recommend this book for both kids and adults alike!

  •     I purchased this book for my 8 year old niece and decided I'd read it first to decide if it was good enough. It started out making me wonder if I should introduce the topic of divorce through this book to her, especially since the mother just decides to leave the marriage because she had married young. However, as I got farther into the book, I started realizing how much I looked forward each evening to reading another chapter or two. It's so refreshing to find a new children's book that is intelligently written with wonderful desciptive writing. This book is special to me now, and I can't wait for my niece to read it.

  •     I thought this book was excellent and have recommended it to everyone--especially those with little girls. I agree with another reviewer--you have to sell it like "The Princess Academy" because it's unknown!I hope the author writes another book about the Nutfolk, and this time includes them more in the book. That is perhaps the only drawback--it leaves you wanting to know more about them. Maybe a book entirely about the Nutfolk, with humans just there as the ones to avoid. Or about the Nutfolk but with Willa helping them with something. Anyway, I highly recommend it!

  •     There are two stories here. The one you might expect from the title is a sweet story of shy but active fairy folk who live in the woods of the Pacific Northwest. But there is a more "serious" story as well -- young Willa, the heroine of the book, has to cope with her parents' recent divorce and being uprooted to live with her mom in a less-than-perfect new home, as well as a new friend with a somewhat scary, troubled father. But with the help of some of the adults around her -- an "older than old" neighbor lady, her rough and tumble uncle, her hard-working mom -- and at least the possibility of magic, Willa finds her way with strength and resourcefulness.A very entertaining read for anyone, The Fairies of Nutfolk Wood might be especially helpful for young people experiencing some big changes in their own lives.

  •     Sweet book.

  •     I read this book with my 7yo daughter and, upon completing it, she gave a high compliment: "Did the author write more?" I found the author's home page and was not surprised that she considered herself an artist first. The book provides wonderful visual images of all kinds, and does so in a natural way that enhances the story, rather than distracts from it.Though fairies are a key element of the book, the strength of the book are the human relationships that the central figure of the book develops. They also occur in a very natural way.As a trivial footnote, there seemed to be a minor inconsistency that an editor should have caught. The story features a semi-remote rural setting with no electricity or modern convenience, except for propane fuel. However, the house has a refrigerator, and ice is available during a hot summer. A curious oddity.

  •     Great story. Combines a mixture of magic, a little mystery, a touch of wonder, and the realities of dealing with a difficult situation like divorce.


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