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Review: Piper Green and the Fairy Tree by Ellen Potter

Piper Green

Piper Green and the Fairy Tree
By Ellen Potter
Illustrated by Qin Leng

Knopf (Random House)

ISBN: 9780553499230
Grades 1-3
Out August 4, 2015

Find it at:
Schuler Books | Your Library

You know what’s normal? Being weird. Kids know this. But as we grow older we do our best to shed anything that might inspire a “huh?” from others. Piper Green is a bit weird, which is to say she is perfectly normal. Following in the fine tradition of spunky girls – Ramona, Amber Brown, Judy Moody, Clementine – Piper Green is set to make some friends in the early chapter book world.

There are two things you should know about Peek-a-Boo Island:

1. All the kids on the island ride a lobster boat to school.

2. There is a fairy tree on my front lawn.

Oh – there’s something else you should know: Piper’s older brother, Erik is gone. No, not gone gone (this isn’t that kind of a book), but on the mainland to attend high school. Piper has decided to wear monkey earmuffs (or, Glunkey and Jibs, as so named) in remembrance. The problem is, she won’t take them off. Not a huge issue while scamping around the island, but a fairly huge issue with her brand new second-grade teacher, Ms. Arabella, who quickly tries to lay down the law. Piper is not happy. But when the tree in her front yard cracks open to contain (of all things) kittens, Piper realizes this furry gift should be returned in kind. Good-bye Glunkey and Jibs.

As a character, Piper is an every girl – smart and sensitive, silly and mischievous. The story is told in first person, and her voice is straightforward and honest. A lot of readers will see some part of themselves in this main character.

The black and white illustrations by Toronto-based artist Qin Leng (a name you might recognize from picture books Norman, Speak! and Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin) add a light touch to the story. Sometimes filling a whole page, other times mixed in with the text, the illustrations are as breezy and appealing as the island setting.

A bit weird. A bit wonderful. And there’s more on the way. Good.

Review copy from the publisher

About Travis Jonker

Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at scopenotes@gmail.com, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.


  1. What a lovely review, Travis! Thank you! My favorite? “A bit weird. A bit wonderful.”