As a young child in my extended family, I was often gifted a lot of items that my older cousins grew out of. One day, as I was going through a pile of English books given by my cousin, a book with a fairy in the middle with a rainbow in the corner in a bright blue background stood out. As I began to flip through the pages, so did my reading journey unfold.
For those who guessed that the book was part of the Rainbow Magic series, you are right. As I read Katie the Kitten Fairy, I was captivated by the innocent beauty and simplicity of life in both the human world and the fairy kingdom. Even as a young child, I admired Rachel and Kirsty’s parents for their trust and kindness to one another despite having just met, and that both pairs of parents so very kindly took pains organising trips for the kids whenever they were on vacation, in addition to the fairies’ friendliness and kindness to a pair of humans, which were creatures they only heard of from the fairy king and queen but never interacted with. But, most of all, being born and raised in Hong Kong, a city which education system was notorious for demanding children to memorise by rote from a very young age, which was compared to spoon-feeding, or indeed, stuffing a duck, my fascination with the book series mostly stemmed from the care-free lifestyle that the children led. Often I thought to myself, would there be a group of stationery fairies, or maybe subject fairies or homework fairies who would be frustrated when kids were kept from completing their homework properly because of mischiefs by Jack Frost and his goblins? However, I soon realised that the Rainbow Magic world was a utopia (at least to a child) with norms different from our own, in which vacations were homework-free.
Enchanted by the graciousness of the fairies and the overwhelming positivity conveyed, I binge-read one set after another. Among all, the Rainbow Fairies series was one that influenced me the most, shaping my view of and attitude to nature that is life-changing. Even though I did not notice at the time, every book I read before Saffron the Yellow Fairy and Fern the Green Fairy was not concerned with nature in particular, and was either family- or school-oriented. However, I was mesmerised by the idea of fairies riding on the back of a squirrel and it jumping bravely from a branch to another, not having seen a squirrel in my life (it is not a tropical animal). Also, although talking animals were popular in cartoons and children TV shows, they nevertheless did not portray as Daisy Meadows did the lifelike interactions among animals, fairies and humans that made it very believable to a child’s heart. Moreover, being situated in a city densely populated by high-rise buildings and hills, I had never seen the end of a rainbow, and thus the idea of a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow was all the more enchanting, symbolising another world of infinite possibilities and wonderful ‘magic’ with emphasis on the prominence of nature and kindness in humanity (and fairies). Even now, whenever I wander around nature areas in Durham, I cannot help but wonder at the possibility of existence of magic and fairies. Perhaps this never enter my mind when I hike in Hong Kong, for the hostile, tropical climate and intense heat are unbearable to every breathing creature in the world; yet it occurs to me that the temperate climate and mild temperature of the UK adorn nature with sparkles of sublime magic and otherworldliness.
Perhaps it sounds childish to say that I still believe in the possibility of the existence of magic in nature, but look! Look at the flowers, the butterflies and the trees when you visit a woodland or a nature reserve! Listen! Listen to the chirping of tits, pigeons and sparrows! Lose not the last drop of childish innocence, of fascination with nature, and if you need any reassurance, you can always open a dusty copy of an old Rainbow Magic and rediscover the enchantment.