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Monday, November 24, 2008


New children’s full colour picture book by Durban-based author Kirsten Miller.

A Time for Fairies is a beautifully illustrated 32 page full colour picture book aimed at children from the age of three to seven years old written by well-known Durban-based author Kirsten Miller, illustrated by Shayle Bester and published by Monique Bowmaker.

This is no ordinary fairy book featuring ethereal creatures with wings, this is a story about a little girl’s magical journey of discovery into the imagination as she ventures to ask her mum if fairies are real.

“I was inspired to publish A Time for Fairies because of the wonderful experience I had with my daughter when she was growing up, and the "fairies" visited our fairy garden,” explains publisher Monique Bowmaker. “They came because my daughter’s 'real' Godmother showed us how to make a fairy garden, just as she had been shown when she was a little girl. The Godmother is actually an artist and the magic of these experiences came in the form of tiny fairy letters that she created which would be placed in the garden at night to be discovered in the morning.

“My daughter and I made a fairy garden using leaves, petals and berries found in the garden. Then it was my task to put one of the tiny "fairy" letters in the garden after she was asleep and create some small disturbance. I cannot adequately explain her excitement and joy of finding a letter from the fairies with her name on it.

“Although she was only four years old, she learnt to anticipate full moon and would potter around outside making a fresh fairy garden out of bits and pieces of special things she could find. It was a wonderfully creative experience and something I could share with her in her world. She would sometimes spend quite some time on her own creating a new fairy garden.”

This whole experience is reflected in A Time for Fairies as the little girl learns that for the fairies to care for you, you have to care for them first. Mother and daughter venture into the garden with a list of everyday items to create a magical fairy garden. The following day, her belief is sorely tested when there is no sign that fairies have visited her garden. Her mum assures her that fairies are very shy, and that the full moon is the fairies’ favourite time, and perhaps they would still visit. The next morning she rushes to her fairy garden and cannot believe her eyes. She feels as if she may burst with excitement as she sees tiny footprints in the sand and best of all a tiny letter from the fairies with her name on it.

In the actual book, the letter (like the ones created for Bowmaker’s daughter) is so small and the writing so minute it makes them absolutely unique and believable.

“The magic of these letters is so powerful because they are so tiny.” says Bowmaker “More importantly the writing inside each letter is minute, and only fairies could possibly write so small.”

In each A Time for Fairies book, there is a standard magical fairy letter (35mm x 15mm), which has been individually hand-crafted by artist Sarah Pratt. However, one may order letters which can be personally addressed to a child with a pre-determined message from the fairies inside or the message can be personalised.

The book encourages parents and grandparents to be interactive with children as they read it. Hidden on each page is a letter of the alphabet that must be found in order to solve a puzzle at the beginning of the book. Simple ways to make one’s own fairy garden are also suggested in the story. To this end, there are Fairy Garden “start-up” kits also available when ordering a book.

“I am hoping that this book will inspire parents and grandparents to have fun in a very simple way which has reaped wonderful rewards for me as a parent” says Bowmaker. “I would encourage them to use it as a guide to enjoy their own special moments that bring an adult and child together in a unique way.”

Kirsten Miller is a writer and artist from Durban. She has published short stories and numerous magazine articles and was a finalist in the HSBC/SA PEN award in 2005 and 2006. In 2005 her first novel, All is Fish, was short-listed for the Jacana/EU Literary Award, and was published in 2007. Her non-fiction book, Children on the Bridge: A story of Autism in South Africa was published by Jacana in 2006. In 2008 Kirsten participated in the Time of the Writer Festival alongside names such as Emmanuel Dongala, Breyten Breytenbach and Angelina Sithebe, amongst others. She also held her second art exhibition in 2008, this time a group show with Robyn Field and Patrick Mabena, at Johannesburg's Unity Gallery. Her artwork centres on fabric and watercolours drawing inspiration from her surroundings and thoughts. For more information on Kirsten Miller and her published books and artwork visit

Shayle Bester is a South African illustrator and artist. She has a Fine Arts Degree from the University of Natal, majoring in Printmaking. She has illustrated four children's books, Three Friends and a Taxi, The Cool Nguni, The Long Trousers and Mielies and Beans. She was jointly awarded the Exclusive Books IBBY SA Award for The Cool Nguni (Jacana 2007). She also works as a mural artist painting children’s rooms. She is inspired by everything around her, especially the fun and quirky aspects of life and currently lives in Pretoria.

Sarah Pratt is a practising South African artist who lives in Cape Town. She has a Masters degree in fine art from the University of Cape Town and has exhibited in South Africa, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Australia, Zimbabwe and England. She teaches printmaking and works for a wide range of interior designers, as well as producing a wide range of decorative interior images for hotels. She has also illustrated a number of children’s and educational books. Sarah specializes in etching and her interests are predominantly centred on emblematic and physiological portraiture. She is currently working on a range of humorous gift cards and a body of work that explores the humorous side of relationships and the disturbing effect of an overactive imagination.

The book costs R89. Personalised fairy letters and messages can be individually purchased over and above standard price. To order telephone 073 305 6637, email: or visit