This is the story of the Goodmund children who lived in the big white house on the boarder of Fairydell. Fairydell was a place, as its name suggests, where fairies lived. But not just fairies. It was also the home of many other creatures. Pixies, for example, also lived in Fairydell. Some people think pixies and fairies are the same thing, but really they are very different. You see, fairies look a lot like small children. So much so that you might see one and not know it is a fairy (they keep their wings hidden unless they know you are friendly towards fairies).
Pixies you might not be able to see at all. They are quite small and fly around, zipping and ducking so quickly that you might think one is a shooting star or a firefly who’s late for dinner.
These are the sorts of things the Goodmund children discovered while living near Fairydell. Eli was the oldest and he liked talking to the fairies and pixies and all the other creatures. He liked to hear their stories and tell stories back. He was quite gifted at remembering little things about each creature. For example, he new that blue leaves often hid under green leaves because they were shy and were afraid if someone saw them, they might wonder why the leaf was blue and not green. Eli could convince the blue leaves to come out and enjoy the sun if he sat quietly and spoke softly, saying all kinds of encouraging things about the sun and oxygen and how it was perfectly normal for a leaf to be blue.
Sophia was just a little younger than Eli and liked to draw and paint things. She would sit in Fairydell for hours and paint any enchanting creature who could sit still for a little while. She’d bring her paintings home and show them to her mother, who thought she had a facinating imagination.
Sophia liked to paint the fairies and the fairies liked to be painted. They would sit still, looking quite regal, as Sophia painted them. You see, fairies are very full of themselves and think they are rather important creatures. They would tut around Sophia as she painted and ask her whether she was sure she got the nose right or if her drawing of the pointed ears were not a little bit exaggerated. However, Sophia was used to the fairies being snobbish and was always very patient with them.
The pixies, on the other hand, would not sit still at all. They would land for a few seconds—just long enough for Sophia to choose the right color—and then they would fly off quickly, looking for something else to do. Sophia was determined to draw pixies one day and held out hope that she would find one who did not have quite as much energy as the rest.
Then there was Jude, the youngest. Jude was an inventor and liked to use his inventions to help the creatures of Fairydell. For example, the porskews--who look something like a hedgehog and something like a squirrel. In fact, if you see a hedgehog or a squirrel, you might not know if you are looking at a porskew--had more children then they expected and needed to move into a larger tree. However, the baby porskews were too small to move and too heavy for their parents to carry one by one. Jude constructed a lift with pulleys and string and was able to move the entire family from one tree to another. Of course, it got a little dangerous when the pixies started flying about the lift, poking and pulling at it because they thought the contraption was funny looking. Eli managed this situation by threatening to tell the fairies that the pixies were misbehaving.
As sometimes happens, this made the pixies misbehave more, and the baby porskews almost fell out of the lift. If Jude had not made the lift with walls—making it look something like a basket—the porskews might have lost their litter. At just the critical moment, Eli distracted the pixies by offering them chocolate (all pixies love chocolate) and the pixies left the porskews alone.
As you may have noticed, pixies are playful little things who are always getting into trouble. It might have something to with how difficult it is for them to speak English. Their language sounds a lot like a singing laughter. If you’ve ever heard someone trying to sing while they are laughing you know what I am talking about. Sometimes pixies get angry, but not very often because they are very happy creatures. If they should get angry it will sound a lot like gurgling water so you might not realize they are upset, especially if you happen to be near a pond or a brook when you hear them.
There is something else you should probably know about the pixies and the fairies. First, the fairies, as special and important as they are, do not like the pixies. In fact, they take very hard lines with them in order to keep them from causing too much trouble. The pixies seem to think the fairies are big bullies (big to the pixies, anyway, the fairies are really very small). They sought out any opportunity to play tricks on the fairies, which, of course, only made the fairies that much more strict.
The Goodmund children were constantly dealing with the squabbles between the pixies and the fairies. Once, after the pixies had played a prank on the fairies by dropping an entire pod of dandelion florets on the fairies during their morning dance lesson, Eli gave an exasperated sigh, “Why can’t the pixies and fairies get along?”
“Hmph,” said Regina, the head fairy (fairies could speak very good English as well as most languages of the other creatures). “Why can’t the pixies move somewhere else? This is Fairydell after all, and no one wants them here.”
Some of the pixies overheard this and it hurt their feelings very much. They retreated into their homes in the tip-tops of the trees and nothing Eli said could coax them to come out and play. He also couldn’t get the fairies to apologize since the comment was made after the pixies had interrupted their dance lesson. The fairies said they would only say sorry if the pixies said sorry and that was the end of it. It seemed there was no hope for the pixies and fairies becoming friends.
By and by the squabble seemed to die down and things returned to normal. At least it seemed that way. Little did anyone know that the pixies were concocting a scheme in which they would play their biggest trick yet.
The fairies had a wooden chest that they kept hidden beneath the moss so as to keep it out of the way. It was a very special chest and held all sorts of special objects. One object was a magic watering jug used to help any fairy who was feeling under the weather. A few drops of water from the jug would help the sick fairy feel better. Another was a mirror that told whoever looked into it what they needed to do in order to improve their appearance. Each fairy would have a look every morning and might be told, “A strand of hair is out of place and falling in your face,” or “wash behind your ears or the sight might bring you to tears.”
Then there was the most magic object of all. It was a paintbrush that only the head fairy was allowed to wield. It was used to decorate their home beneath the bushes and could paint very elaborate murals over the roots and branches of the their glade. The way it was used was somewhat of a mystery, but it took Regina no time at all to change the paintings and she would change them every day.
The pixies thought it would be a great joke if they stole the paintbrush and gave it to Sophia as a gift. They’d tell her it was from the fairies and then the fairies couldn’t take it back. So one day, not too long after the day Regina said she wished the pixies would move somewhere else, the fairies were down by the brook having their spa day. Their blond ringlets were wrapped in moss and their pale skin as covered in mud with a few drops of the magic water mixed in. They lay on the bank of the brook, covered by a canopy of leaves in order to avoid the sun.
This was the moment the pixies used to steal the paintbrush.
Once they had it, however, they suddenly realized they needed to communicate that the paintbrush was a gift from the fairies (as I’ve already said, the pixies aren’t very good at English). As they were zipping about, tossing out ideas on how to tell Sophia about the paintbrush, one of the littlest pixies flew to the center of the commotion. In pixie language, her name was Hahahalalalaoolahahalalaoolalala. But in English her name was Aria. She called the pixies to attention, which just means she asked all of them to zip about closely and try to pay attention. “I---Write,” she said. And all the pixies gasped. Then Aria took a leaf and the juice of a berry and wrote, “Fum da Ferys.” The pixies cheered and they wrapped the paintbrush and hid it near the stone where Sophia usually sat to draw or paint things.
They watched from the treetops, waiting for Sophia to find their gift.
(Part 2-The Magic Paintbrush)