Playing by the book

Reviews of kids' books and the crazy, fun stuff they inspire us to do

For when life is just not fair

Posted on | July 5, 2012 | 11 Comments

I couldn’t have written a better script… J was off ill a few days ago and M stomped to school with fury all over her face.

“IT’S NOT FAIR! Why can’t I stay at home?”

The pavement (and my ears) got a fair bashing from M that morning, and before 9am I was already exhausted! But my book-fairy-godmother must have heard my exasperated cries for help; as if by magic the postman delivered…

It’s Not Fairy by Ros Asquith.

Siblings Bill and Mary complain that when they get different things, life’s just not fair. Fortunately, the kids’ parents know about the It’s Not Fairy, who’s on a mission around the world to help sort out what’s wrong and right, but who also likes to eat those who complain a little too much.

Bill and Mary scoff at the idea of the It’s Not Fairy, but when they hear their parents complaining about life being unfair (for example, when Mum does all the housework and Dad just slouches in his chair), they are quick to remind their elders about her penchant for gobbling up grumblers.

When the parents produce their supposed trump card, “It’s up to us to say what’s FAIR!” the It’s Not Fairy can’t hold back any longer and makes an appearance to berate the family. She ask them to think about what really constitutes fairness and justice, and to see their gripes in a wider context. If they can’t do that, she threatens to bake them all in one big fairy cake.

In lesser hands this could be a pompous moral tale told with a big wagging finger hanging over the reader and listener, but Ros Asquith has brilliantly written a tremendously funny, (and, yes, useful!) story I can’t recommend enough. Everyone has fun poked at them, not only the parents, but even the It’s Not Fairy herself, reminding us that even though we’re not all perfect, and we do all complain from time to time, it’s ok to have a moan, and it’s even more ok to take a deep breath and remember the bigger picture.

The rhyming text is fun to read aloud and also draws in listeners who will quickly be joining in. The illustrations, familiar to those who read Asquith’s regular cartoon strips in the Guardian newspaper, are full of textual detail that pack even more giggles into this book.

A punchy way to start a more meaningful discussion about what is and isn’t fair, every primary school should have this book for use in classrooms. Every parent should have a copy too because it’s a gift – now when I get moans from the kids about things not being fair, I just remind them about the It’s Not Fairy, and a grumpy situation is turned round into one where we can laugh and actually talk about what we’re feeling.

It’s Not Fairy comes with a great recipe for baking your own It’s Not Fairy Cakes so of course we tried them out. For “Fairy Dust”, to sprinkle on the icing, we made coloured sugar using this tutorial. We’d never coloured sugar before but it is SO simple, and so effective! If you haven’t done it before you really must try it.

We then went on to make our own fairy wands which can actually sprinkle REAL fairy dust…

I was inspired by the gorgeous poppies we’ve currently got blooming in our garden – after all, their dried seed heads are the perfect fairy dust sprinklers.

I lined up old food colouring bottles, bamboo sticks, acrylic paint (best for painting on plastic and wood), and glitter…

The girls painted their sticks and bottles…

…in the end also hot glueing some feathers on the end of their fairy dust sprinklers.

The little bottles were filled with glitter (well, when I say “filled”… this really depends on your comfort level for what comes next: deliberatly sprinkling glitter everywhere)…

…the bottles were screwed on to their lids, on the end of the bamboo sticks…

… and it was time to go and spread some fairy dust!

Glitter, glitter EVERYWHERE!

This was a hugely popular activity! What’s not to love? Spreading fairy magic, getting to cast spells, seeing glitter sparkle through the air, being allowed to turn your mum into a frog…. it’s all good ;-)

Whilst making our It’s Not Fairy cakes and wands we listened to:

  • It’s not Fair to Me by Bill Harley and Keith Munslow. You can listen to it here for free.
  • It’s Not Fair by Monty Harper (this is one that really made me laugh the first time I heard it – which you can do for free here)
  • Mary the Fairy by Key Wilde & Mr. Clarke, a gentle song about a fairy who couldn’t fly (watch the band perform the song on YouTube).


  • Other activities which would go well alongside reading It’s Not Fairy include:

  • Making edible fairy wands, as inspired by Here Come the Girls
  • Making glow in the dark fairy dust, as inspired by The Honorable Mention Preschool Blog
  • Creating your very own It’s Not Fairy – perhaps inspired by the pipecleaner fairies made by Boston Baby Mama.


  • How do you deal with moans of “It’s not fair!” in your home? Have you any other books on fairness you can recommend?

    If you’re looking for even more books and crafts to do with fairies, check out my round up of Fairy books and Maggy’s round up of Fairy crafts as part of my series “I’m looking for a book about…” (the next themed round up is next week – all about space!).

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    Comments

    11 Responses to “For when life is just not fair”

    1. Rebecca
      July 5th, 2012 @ 7:25 am

      Oh lookie – that’s a link to me! What a lovely surprise – thank you.

      I love the fairy wands – gorgeous! My daughter would adore them.

      Off to order this book it looks really good.
      Rebecca recently posted..One year old

    2. Zoe
      July 5th, 2012 @ 7:36 am

      :-) Rebecca, love your edible wands. Perhaps we could create edible wands that sprinkle edible fairy glitter to combine both our ideas?!
      Zoe recently posted..For when life is just not fair

    3. Polly
      July 5th, 2012 @ 7:46 am

      fantastic. and boy do we need that book…(AGAIN)
      Polly recently posted..EXCLUSIVE: The Fearsome Beastie bites back

    4. Ayesha
      July 5th, 2012 @ 9:02 am

      This really sounds like soooooo much fun! (And ofcourse there are the lovely photos to prove that :))
      I was gonna be afraid this book would be a bit too moralistic, but instead it sounds like fun. Wonderful!

    5. Zoe
      July 5th, 2012 @ 9:02 am

      Polly, I recognise that feeling of absolute necessity!

    6. Zoe
      July 5th, 2012 @ 9:06 am

      Hi Ayesha, yes, it could so easy have been horribly moralistic, but the author gets an important message across without any sort of threatening, heavyhanded antics. The humour is great, and the observation that it’s not just kids who sometimes find life unfair!

    7. Library Mice
      July 5th, 2012 @ 9:51 am

      Suhc a shame my other half has major glitter phobia, we are not really allowed it in the house :0(

      Looks like a great book, I am sure we all experience those “it’s not fair” moments!!!
      Library Mice recently posted..BLOG TOUR: FABULOUS FIVE: Sarah Horne Presents Five Mad and Brilliant Picture Books

    8. Zoe
      July 5th, 2012 @ 9:56 am

      Ah Library Mice, it’s tough living with kids and having a glitter phobia. Maybe it’s an activity for the book group? Spread glitter somewhere other than your home?

    9. June Carnival of Children’s Literature | Anastasia Suen's Blog
      July 28th, 2012 @ 7:07 am

      […] you read It’s Not Fairy (and bake a cake, too!) learn how to make your own fairy wands (see the photo above, they can […]

    10. Storied Cities
      October 1st, 2012 @ 6:53 pm

      Zoe: do you think this book qualifies as being set in the city? It isn’t released until next April over here and it looks like it might be from the cover. Thanks.
      Storied Cities recently posted..Autumnal City: Applesauce Season

    11. Zoe
      October 1st, 2012 @ 9:09 pm

      Hi Storied Cities, it’s a lovely book but no, I don’t think it really can be said to be set in a city. It’s set in a family, but whether that is in a city or not isn’t at all clear (or important to the story).

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