Gettin' Down and Dirty! Bloom by Doreen Cronin
ONCE UPON A TIME
IN A BEAUTIFUL GLASS KINGDOM
THERE LIVED AN UNUSUAL FAIRY NAMED BLOOM.
HER BOOTS WERE CAKED WITH MUD. BEETLES RESTED IN HER HAIR.
BLOOM'S MAGIC COULD SPIN WIND INTO GLASS, TURN WEEDS INTO BLOSSOMS, AND GROW TRICKLES OF RAINWATER INTO RACING RIVERS.
That was all well and good with the King and Queen and their snooty court, but Bloom's untidy appearance and sloppy working environment--messy buckets of mud leaving untidy trails about the landscape--did not sit well within the royals's lovely crystal city. Mud here and there definitely spoiled the upscale ambiance.
AS THE YEARS PASSED AND THE KINGDOM BECAME LARGER AND SHINIER, THE PEOPLE CARED LESS AND LESS ABOUT BLOOM'S MAGIC AND NOTICED ONLY THE MESS.
Apparently the rulers of the crystal kingdom were unfamiliar with the old proverb that said, "To make an omelet, you must first break some eggs!"
There is a palace revolt and poor Bloom, mess and all, is banished from the crystal city and flees into the forest, where she finds a happy place to continue her magic.
People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones! And kings and queens who live in glass castles shouldn't cast aspersions on fairies, either. Fairies can have dirty tricks up their gossamer sleeves. Slowly the city loses its pristine sparkle. The glass castle acquires ghastly cracks. The river dries up, and with it the beautiful flowers and trees that had graced the grounds.
THE CASTLE WAS HELD TOGETHER BY DUCT TAPE, GLUE, AND PEASANTS.
At first the King goes a progress into the forest to find Bloom, but is put off by her proffered bucket of mud. So he sends Genevieve, a self-effacing chambermaid whose only task is polishing the Queen's crystal sugar spoon, whom he hopes will have more luck. Bloom is bemused and queries why such a small and delicate emissary has been sent to her for help.
"BECAUSE I AM ORDINARY!" ANSWERED GENEVIEVE.
Her answer pleases the down-to-earth fairy, and Bloom sets to work, teaching Genevieve the lost art of molding her beloved mud into sturdy bricks, and together they build a strong and beautiful house in the forest. The royals are impressed with what a messy fairy and an un-ordinary girl can do, and they are invited back to the kingdom to teach the subjects to get down and dirty, building a solid city of bricks and learning the value of toil in the soil.
In a departure from her popular stories of comical animals, Doreen Cronin's latest, Bloom (Atheneum Books, 2016) is a parable of appearance vs. reality, with a lesson in civic responsibility starring two extra-ordinary girls. Caldecott winner David Small contributes comic light and airy-as-a-fairy watercolor illustrations, with a freckle-faced, red-haired heroine of a fairy who teaches a lesson in sensible cooperation with a bright grin, assisted by a design that uses assorted fonts, even Gothic capitals, to add a spritely lift to this modern fairy story. Publisher's Weekly gives Cronin's newest a starred review, calling it a "...smart, subversive fairy tale."
Cronin's works include the best-selling series begun with Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type, and David Small's Caldecott honors include So You Want to Be President?, The Gardener (Caldecott Honor Award), and One Cool Friend. (See review here).