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  • Modern Fairies, Dwarves, Goblins, and Other Nasties: A Practical Guide by Miss Edythe McFate
  • Written by Lesley M. M. Blume
    Illustrated by David Foote
  • Format: Trade Paperback | ISBN: 9780375854934
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  • Written by Lesley M. M. Blume
    Illustrated by David Foote
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    Illustrated by David Foote
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Modern Fairies, Dwarves, Goblins, and Other Nasties: A Practical Guide by Miss Edythe McFate

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Written by Lesley M. M. BlumeAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Lesley M. M. Blume
Illustrated by David FooteAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by David Foote

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On Sale: September 14, 2010
Pages: 256 | ISBN: 978-0-375-89702-3
Published by : Knopf Books for Young Readers RH Childrens Books
Modern Fairies, Dwarves, Goblins, and Other Nasties: A Practical Guide by Miss Edythe McFate Cover

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ABOUT THE BOOK ABOUT THE BOOK
ABOUT THE AUTHOR ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

Modern Fairies is a complete departure for Lesley Blume, but one that has garnered both critical praise and commercial success in hardcover, and we expect to see great things from the paperback. It's elegantly written and beautifully illustrated, which will help set it apart from other books about fairies. Half guidebook and half short story collection, Modern Fairies is for children who love the earnest advice included in the Dangerous Book for Boys/Girls titles and the wicked fun of Roald Dahl. The illustrations are incredibly original and yet also instantly classic. David Foote is a real find and an artist from whom we can expect to see much more. 

Excerpt

The War at the Algonquin Hotel    

You've likely heard of the famous Algonquin Hotel on Manhattan's West 44th Street, which sits like a tired, dignified old man with his back turned to the nearby carnival of Times Square.  

There was always something shady and calm about the Algonquin, which makes sense when you think about it. After all, hundreds of years ago, a magnificent oak tree lived where the hotel now stands.  

But then along came settlers, who eventually decided that they needed hotels with things like claw-footed bathtubs and room service. And so they raised their axes, and many thousands of chops and hacks later, the magnificent oak tree was gone and its woodwas made into the frame of the Algonquin Hotel.  

It used to be quite a peculiar place. When you pushed through the heavy glass-and-oak doors into the lobby, the air grew heavier and wreathed around your shoulders like a fur shawl. This was all very strange until you realized that this is what it feels like when time is slowing down.  

If you needed proof that this was happening, you could have watched the old grandfather clock facing the concierge desk, which sighed rather than chimed; its spindly hands circled the yellowing clock face more slowly than the hands of every other clockin the world, and yet somehow the time was always right. A teacup that fell in the Algonquin took longer to hit the floor than anyplace else in the world.  

The Algonquin still managed to run like a normal hotel, despite the honey-in-winter pace of life there. Somehow towels got washed and pressed and arrived with lavender sweetness in all of the bathrooms; crisp newspapers appeared outside the door of each room at dawn; hot meals were turned out of the kitchen in a timely manner, although usually in need of a little salt.   But no one at the Algonquin could figure out exactly how things ran so smoothly.  

Not the ancient, white-gloved waiters, most of whom were as old as the grandfather clock; nor the kitchen staff; nor the chambermaids; and certainly not the sleepy, disheveled manager of the hotel, Mr. Harold Kneebone. When pressed on the subject, Mr.Kneebone would always say:  

"Who can say for sure what makes the clock tick, or the sun rise and set, or the wheat grow? These things just happen, that's all."  

And then, more often than not, he would nestle his face into his forearms and sail off into a soulful, sweet little nap.      

However, two Algonquin residents understood exactly why the establishment ran like clockwork.  

The first was a big, fat orange cat with yellow eyes named Mathilde, who lived in a little diorama of a room carved into one of the lobby walls. A golden-lettered wooden sign dangled above the cubby and proclaimed:  

Mathilde's Suite  

And the second resident in the know was Olive, the eight-year-old daughter of the hotel chef.  

Olive was especially good at two things: making fruit salads and keeping secrets. Mathilde was her best friend, and when fruit-salad duty didn't keep Olive in the kitchen, the girl and the cat sat in their favorite corner of the lobby behind a potted palm.  

One evening, the old headwaiter peeked around the palm to see what they were up to. Their heads were turning from side to side in unison.  

"What are you looking at, an invisible tennis match?" asked the headwaiter warily.  

"Nope," said Olive.  

"Well, what, then?" pressed the headwaiter.  

Mathilde settled her chin onto her paws, her yellow eyes tracing invisible mice darting across the floor.  

"Just looking around," Olive responded mysteriously.  

Not that the headwaiter would have believed Olive if she'd told him the truth: that she and Mathilde were watching brownies.  

Not many people today are familiar with brownies, indisputedly the friendliest species of fairy. Tiny, wingless creatures, brownies wear hats made from nutshells and dapper little three-piece suits and have a gentle sort of magic mostly used for practical jokes.  

Usually found in places where large operations are going on, like factories and, of course, hotels, brownies always like to run things--whether they've been invited to help or not. They adhere to strict routines, which makes them excellent workers. But be warned: nothing makes a brownie behave more badly than a disrupted routine.  

In the old days, brownies lived in trees and when they died, their spirits became one with those trees. Generations of brownies had lived in the Algonquin oak tree before it got chopped up and made into the hotel itself. Since then, the descendants of the original Algonquin brownies had adopted the hotel as their home, and as you probably guessed, those brownies--not the old waiters or Mr. Kneebone--were the ones running the establishment so well.  


From the Hardcover edition.
Lesley M. M. Blume

About Lesley M. M. Blume

Lesley M. M. Blume - Modern Fairies, Dwarves, Goblins, and Other Nasties: A Practical Guide by Miss Edythe McFate

Photo © Caitlin Crounse

About the Author


Lesley M. M. Blume is an author, journalist, columnist, cultural observer, and bon vivant based in New York City, where she was born.  She did her undergraduate work at Williams College and Oxford University, and took her graduate degree in history from Cambridge University, where she was a Herchel Smith fellow.

Ms. Blume has authored three critically-acclaimed novels for Knopf Books for Young Readers: Cornelia and the Audacious Escapades of the Somerset Sisters (2006), The Rising Star of Rusty Nail (2007), and Tennyson (2009).  Upon the release of Tennyson, reviewers and critics placed her in the same class as writers Flannery O’Connor, Eudora Welty, and Truman Capote (“Brilliant, unusual writing.”—The Chicago Tribune).  

She is currently finishing her fourth book for Knopf—Modern Fairies, Dwarves, Goblins, and Other Nasties—which will be released on September 14, 2010, and recently inked a deal for her fifth (The World Before Us, Fall 2011).

As a journalist, Ms. Blume began her career at The Jordan Times in Amman and Cronkite Productions in New York City. She later became an off-air reporter for ABC News Nightline with Ted Koppel in Washington, D.C., where she helped cover the historic presidential election in 2000, the 9/11 attacks, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and countless other events and topics.  She now writes on cultural topics full-time, contributing to a wide array of publications, including Vogue, Slate, The Daily Beast, and The Big Money.

She lives in Greenwich Village with her husband and their French bulldog, who was a featured character in her first popular first novel, Cornelia and the Audacious Escapades of the Somerset Sisters.  

You can learn more about her at www.lesleymmblume.com.


In Her Own Words: Writing Cornelia


“Before I actually sat down and wrote Cornelia, I’d been thinking about the book’s characters for a long time. In fact, I grew up with many of them, in a way. My own mother was a concert pianist, trained at Juilliard by a great Russian master. My childhood was spent amidst her coterie of artist friends, which included flamboyant art dealers, crazed pianists, and aspiring opera singers (in fact, I used to torment a ‘Howling Dog’ who came to practice at our home; she shall remain anonymous).

“Indeed, most of the incidental characters in Cornelia were inspired by real people. For instance, we had a family accountant who worked and held court at various odd-spots around New York City, including a disheveled yarn warehouse in Hell’s Kitchen. None of the warehouse workers quite knew what to make of him, and, as a little girl, neither did I. But I was very aware, even at an early age, that my experiences and encounters with such characters were deliciously atypical. And so I filed them away in my mind and on the pages of journals, knowing that I’d want to remember them in full-color at some point in the future.

“The idea for the Somerset sisters came about in this way: one of my mother's friends had a vast, echoing mansion in Montclair, and in many of the rooms stood old black-and-white photographs of her husband’s great-aunts, having wild adventures all over the world. These ladies were all rich and restless and left their husbands behind as they toured everywhere from Hollywood to the pyramids. Naturally, the photos made quite an impression on me. I wanted to be like these women. I wanted to lean casually into Clark Gable’ s side and smile as camera lights flashed, or have my picture was taken while perched on a camel, squinting into the Egyptian sunset. The great-aunts seemed like such wonderfully free creatures, who truly loved being alive.

“Later, I started having adventures of my own. Like the Somerset sisters, I went ‘anywhere and everywhere a train or a boat or a plane would take me.’ I sent myself to English universities and Bedouin tents and Parisian cabarets. I studied everything and wrote it all down, and my heroes were fiercely independent women like Martha Gellhorn, Christiane Amanpour, and Marlene Dietrich. I relied heavily on my travel journals as material for Cornelia, and many of the Somersets’ escapades are based on my real-life adventures. Although, sadly, I did not get to meet the great Pablo Picasso or the ghost of King Arthur. But I certainly would have liked to, and was happy to give the Somerset sisters the opportunity to do so in my book.

“Now I live in Greenwich Village, in the building where I envisioned Cornelia living with Lucy, Madame Desjardins, Patel, Mister Kinyatta, and of course, Virginia. This beautiful part of New York City has captured my imagination as much as the medina of Marrakech or the ruins of Tintagel. In a way, Cornelia is my heartfelt homage to this neighborhood and city where I was born, and to which I returned, and to all of the people and places that happened to me in-between.

“It’s all been extremely colorful, to say the least.”



-–Lesley M. M. Blume,
July 2006
Awards

Awards

NOMINEE Indiana Young Hoosier Award
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