TWA celebrates Eiry Rees Thomas and her award winning series about the Flitlits. After first encountering the Land of Fussbut, Seldom See, I was overwhelmed. How do you start in describing this incredible world? It is not like anything I have ever experienced before. Each word on the page is placed to make the whole experience so expansive and rich in detail; it is hard to know where to begin. So I’ll begin with telling you about Eiry. She began her journey with just an itch of an idea when sidelined by a life changing injury. I like to think that Jester Bit, the main character was whispering in her ear, and took her on a journey far far across the universe to the home of the Flitlits in Seldom See. The Flitlits are citizens of Fussbut, Seldom See – a magical place that can be visited any time and anywhere, and once read stays within your imagination forever. The books are somewhere between a chapter book and a picture book, giving kids ages 8-11 the chance to read and explore a world like no other. It is the lyricism of the prose that knocks you off your feet, and lulls you in like a siren’s song. The three volumes came out first as interactive apps that portray storytelling that is steeped in tradition, and are now available in book form too. The American language version (of which there is a choice of English, Welsh or American English) is filled with rhyme, rhythm, and creates a magical syncopation that builds in anticipation as it is read aloud. On opening, the island is portrayed in all its glorious detail. Tap on the menu for options, or to hear an introduction. The Main Menu includes a reference map that serves as a reference point on the landmarks and people of Fussbut, Seldom See, and a launching pad for kid’s imaginations for off-screen play. Teachers will love the extensive educational guide that is included. It contains links to the specific goals and subject matter from the map and characters. The landmarks and characters in the stories tie in diverse teaching opportunities from Information Technology to Horticulture and Physics. Find out more on the website: www.theflitlits.com or within the apps themselves. James Field masterly illustrates all the books, and narration is well paced, poetic, and slightly surreal. Animation is smooth and hot spots compliment the content. Books can be read by yourself or narrated. Text is highlighted, and music/sounds can be minimized for sensory sensitive kids. All three books are ripe for teaching social skills and learning about emotional control and self-regulation. The Three Interactive Storybooks: The Funny Fair, the first book in the series is a wild ride through a very different kind of fair. You never know who may float by or what will happen next. Play games and take a ride on the Go-Ghost Train or visit the hall of mirrors where Hubert the ghost is taking pictures, you’ll be sure to enjoy it! Jester Bit, the main character, has a heart of gold, but loves to play pranks. In this first book, his friends try to turn the tide and outsmart Jester, but he overhears of the plot, and a chase ensues. When his friends catch up and deliver their prank on Jester, he takes it with good humor and dreams of tricks for another day. A Ferry to Airy is the second volume of the Flitlits series. Jester, feeling blue and bored, is coaxed out to explore the island with a friend. They meet the Soak Folks – a spongy crew looking for a sunny spot to live. When Jester accidently falls into the sailing ship, the ship has taken off and he goes on an adventure with these wet-fearing peoples. And on a far off island, the Soak Folk get into trouble with the inhabitants. Jester comes to save the day, rescuing the Soak Folk, and they return him to Fussbut, a few friends heavier. A Shine Show Shock, the third volume in the Flitlit’s series, finds Jester, worried about his competition at the Shine Show (the Flitits’ talent show). He so wants to win the coveted Shine Show Star. After spying on his friends preparing for the show, feels badly for their sadness and sorrow, and ends up helping his friends in the end. The story, with a time-honored theme, brings forth a unique and powerful twist. I truly am in awe of Eiry Rees Thomas. These books are classics, and foster attention and a love for the written word. It opens up discussions on many topics, and encourages exploration and off screen play. The educator’s guide is truly outstanding and will be an asset in helping children grab on to that spark of imagination. And that is what makes these stories so remarkable as anything can happen as it does in Seldom See or in your very own room. Highly Highly Recommended and a TWA favorite and Top Pick. They can be purchased separately, or bought as a bundle.
Written by Jo Booth
Jo Booth has been an Occupational Therapist for over 30 years and currently works in Pediatrics with early intervention. She sees kids newly diagnosed on the spectrum as well as medically fragile kids. She loves to move, explore and play every day; so that “her kids” grow up to be healthy independent learners.