Cover image for Fairy dust
Fairy dust
Smith, Jane Denitz.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : HarperCollins Publishers, [2002]

Physical Description:
152 pages ; 22 cm
Nine-year-old Ruthie is introduced to a magical fairy world when her father hires a new babysitter, Alice.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 4.3 4.0 56431.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Juvenile Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



When Ruthie's mother is called away on a long business trip, suddenly nothing seems to be going right. Ruthie's father just can't keep things together, and each sitter is worse than the last.Until Alice.When Alice steps into Rut ie's life, the weak winter light recedes. The air seems warm, and everything is brighter. Here is the baby-sitter who can change Ruthie's world -- or destroy it.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 4-6. Ruthie's mother is away on business, and her regular baby-sitter is busy, so her father hires a teenager, Alice, to take care of her after school. At first Alice just seems fey as she introduces Ruthie to the world of fairies, telling her tales and even building a fairy house in the backyard (many readers will like the details about the house, comprising bits of nature and doll house furniture). With her mother gone and her father busy, Ruthie feels herself being lured into Alice's world, even though she knows Alice is doing things that aren't right, like persuading Ruthie to take money from her father's coin jar. In some ways the story seems written to formula: Alice gets Ruthie to shoplift for her and is fired, and when Ruthie goes to Alice's house, she sees that Alice has lied about almost everything. What Smith does best is show how a nine-year-old's loneliness can blur the line between reality and make-believe and how easy it is to be led astray. --Ilene Cooper

Publisher's Weekly Review

Smith's (Charlie Is a Chicken; Mary by Myself) engaging novel centers on Ruthie, a likable fourth grader whose father hires 16-year-old Alice to watch her after school while her mother takes an extended business trip. The exotic teen instantly captivates Ruthie; Alice sprinkles sequins in her white-blonde hair, wears a purple velvet cape and "seemed like a magical creature, someone spun from sugar and then plucked from the air." Even more enticing is her sitter's belief in fairies and the magical power of her imaginary "Fairy Dust." The two create a miniature house in the woods for fairies, whom Alice promises will soon arrive to take up residence. But Alice's fairy fantasies begin to create ominous reverberations: she urges Ruthie to take money from the jar of cash her father keeps on his night table to buy something for the fairies and filches a box of holiday decorations from a store, assuring Ruthie that this is not stealing, since she had first sprinkled it with Fairy Dust. It becomes increasingly evident that the troubled teen is heading for a fall, and few readers will be surprised when she and Ruthie, a reluctant accomplice, get caught shoplifting (the guard lets them off with a warning). Though Alice's fate is left dangling and the story's pace stalls in spots, the scales fall from Ruthie's eyes. Smith raises worthwhile questions about listening to one's conscience and shapes credible characters apt to appeal to middle-grade girls. Ages 8-12. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 3-6-When Ruthie's mother must spend several months in Mexico, the nine-year-old is left in the care of her father and a baby-sitter she does not like. An emergency in the woman's family calls for a new sitter, and Ruthie's dad hires a high school student, despite his doubts about her reliability. For Ruthie, though, Alice is almost magical in the stories she tells and the activities she plans. Together they build a house for the fairies to live in and decorate it with all kinds of comforts for the proposed residents. The teen makes everything exciting and explains that sprinkling fairy dust makes everything OK, even taking items from stores. Using this reasoning, Ruthie takes a small glass apple from her teacher's desk to put in the fairies' house. Even the disappearance of a treasured amulet and the apple from the fairy dwelling gives her only a few doubts about Alice. When the two are caught shoplifting, Alice is fired and Ruthie discovers the truth about her. The novel begins with the expectations of a lighthearted imaginative fantasy, but develops into a more intense, realistic story of right and wrong. The characters are fairly well drawn, even if not absolutely believable, and the plot moves along at a comfortable pace. While the ending is a bit heavy-handed and the theme of misplaced trust and loyalty is rather obvious, the book does provide an interesting read with a hopeful ending.-Janet Hilbun, formerly at Sam Houston Middle School, Garland, TX (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.