Growing up in Mirkwood with the perfect babby brother can be a pain. At least that is what Mollie thinks. Yeah, he never cries, and he’s sweet and cute as a button, but sometimes a girl just gets tired of all the attention given to the little one. Mollie is that girl! One day when she is out weeding the garden, watching her little brother Thomas, she just wishes that he hadn’t even been born. After all, there is always so much work, and he certainly can’t help with any of it. Still, at least he is a good babby. No one can ever say he is a good and charming child though, because if they do, the Kinde Folke might come and take him and give them a horrible changeling in his place. Thomas has a charm from Granny Hedgepath, a beautiful necklace that Mollie wishes had been given to her instead of her little brother. After all, what’s a little boy going to do with a necklace anyway? But he is supposed to wear it at all times and it will protect him from the Kinde Folke.
But this day, when Thomas pulls off his necklace and offers it to Mollie, she can’t resist. She puts it on herself. And makes the terrible mistake of saying out loud what a sweet babby he is. When Mollie wakes from a strange nap, the baby lying where Thomas should be is different. He is crying (which Thomas never does) and has strange yellow eyes, and looks sickly. Mollie is terrified that she has let a changeling take the place of Thomas. Granny Hedgepath confirms Mollie’s worst fears, a changeling has been substituted for Thomas!
Dadoe and Mam aren’t sure what to do. Dadoe wants to abandon the changeling, but Mam heeds Granny’s advice to be nice to the creature and maybe the Kinde Folke will be good to Thomas. All Mollie knows is that it is her fault. And she might be the only one who can go to the Dark Lands and find her babby brother and make her family whole again.
Guest by Mary Downing Hahn is an imaginative fantasy using Irish tales to dream up a world where you are never sure if it is the Kinde Folke of life that is making things hard.
Recommended for grades 6 and up.