Almost a hundred years ago, two girls, one 9 and one 15, began an adventure together. Frances, who was 9, went with her mother to live with her aunt and uncle while her father was off fighting in the Great War (World War I). Her older cousin, Elsie, showed her the beck, or glen behind the house they were living. As the weather got nicer, Frances would spend more and more time investigating the flowers, trees and animals that lived around the little waterfall and stream that ran through the area behind the cottage.
At one point, Frances began to notice little men around the trees, and later, she saw fairies. At one point she mentioned this to her mother, and aunt and uncle, who immediately said she was making things up and began to tease her. When Frances asked Elsie if she ever saw fairies, Elsie said she had. One day, Elsie asked if she and Frances could borrow father’s camera to take a picture of the fairies. Her father reluctantly agreed, and only gave one plate for them to use. When Elsie and Frances were far away from the house, Elsie brought out little paper fairies she had drawn on paper, painted and carefully cut out. They used long hatpins and gum to keep the fairy pictures up. Thus began one of the longest running hoaxes in modern times…all perpetrated by young girls.
The Fairy Ring or Elsie and Frances Fool the World by Mary Losure is a great little book showing how one afternoon changed the lives of many people in England and even in America. What is amazing is how the whole story didn’t come up for so many years.
Recommended for 6th grade and up.