SMALL PERSONS WITH WINGS, by Ellen Booraem, Dial, New York, 2011, hardcover, 302 pages, $16.99.
It’s not easy being different.
That’s one message in Brooklin author Ellen Booraem’s second book, aimed at readers ages 10 and up.
Melissa “Mellie” Turpin is well aware of that fact. She is the daughter of two wannabe artists and reluctant teachers. Her best friend is a Small Person with Wings (they hate the term “fairy”) named Fidius. As an overweight, intellectual girl, Mellie is often the target of other girls and boys at school.
Then, after she promises to bring Fidius to school to show the other students, he takes off, and she becomes an even greater target for ridicule.
Fortunately for Mellie, her family inherits a rundown inn in a nearby town after her crotchety grandfather dies. This means a fresh start for her, in a town where people don’t know her history.
But of course life isn’t that easy. First Mellie makes the acquaintance of another Small Person with Wings named Durindana. Then she and her family discover that the inn is infested with the Parvi Pennati, the real name for the Small Persons with Wings.
They learn of a generations-old agreement between the Turpin family and the Parvi Pennati. The Turpins are the caretakers of the Gemmaluna, a magical gemstone, and in return, they must take in any of the Parvi Pennati who seek shelter.
Unfortunately, that tribe is losing its ability to practice magic, and want the gemstone back, to restore their powers. In return, they would bring the inn and pub back to its previous glory.
But a renegade Parvi, with the ability to entrance humans, also wants the gem, in order to practice a darker form of magic.
Mellie and her new friend and next-door neighbor Timmo find themselves as the ones who have to set things right for all concerned.
In “Small Persons with Wings,” Booraem plays reality against artificiality, and makes readers decide which is truly more important. The novel manages to be enjoyable and thought-provoking at the same time. That’s a difficult balancing act, and Booraem pulls it off adroitly.