After instructing Mary on hand stitching techniques, the Sewing Bird starts her on a grand sampler on canvas. I don’t intend to make one. Cross stitch doesn’t interest me much. I have no need to depict a small house terrorized by a giant black rabbit.
Then the Sewing Bird reveals more about herself.
”Dear little Miss, I’ll give you A secret to keep. Put your hand over your eyes, And don’t dare to peep! Now, you may take away your hand— Behold, a Lady from Thimble Land!”
When Mary Frances opened her eyes, there sat the loveliest, sweetest little fairy lady on the edge of the table in the place of Sewing Bird; — only Mary Frances noticed her lips looked very much like the bill of a bird.”
First, what’s with all the secrets? If Mary is not to talk of the Thimble Folks that will already include the fact that the Sewing Bird is able to shape-shift into a magic fairy.
Worst warg ever. The Sewing Bird can be a talking utilitarian object for sewists or a fairy with wings. Why hang out at Grandma’s when you’ve got actual wings?
And what was all that bullshit last time when the Sewing Bird was lamenting not having handy hands? She had the ability for hands ALL ALONG. Liar.
The illustrator, Jane A Boyer, seems to have NO desire to depict her fairy with a beak-like pair of lips. None of the illustrations of the Fairy Lady show such a thing. She’s got antenna to go with her butterfly wings (not bird wings) but nary a beak to be seen.
And it’s not like Jane A Boyer was opposed to making freakish creatures… it’s just that a beak on a woman seems to have been a step too far.
The fairy goes on to give Mary the freakish power to control which visage of the Bird/Fairy is present, she simply must shield her eyes and say “Magic and Mystery, Give my wish to me.” and the change is made.
I teach small children. I would never give them this power over me.
The shapeshifting is not yet over.
As Fairy Lady starts to teach Mary how to mark and fold a hem we meet more of the Thimble Folk.
Pen Cil is just a lead pencil. It does not transform. It just writes on fabric. I don’t know why Mary uses a lead pencil instead of tailor’s chalk. Needles aren’t generally given personas here. I don’t know why Pen Cil is a thing.
Hell, I don’t understand why a talking Sewing Bird needs to become a Fairy. I guess it was assumed that a Fairy and Magic would keep a child’s attention more than just freakish talking scissors and thimbles.
When I was a child, Dorothy and the other children who found their way to Oz had to endure natural disasters and traumas! Physical transformations required the active use of magic spells, consultations with witches, and long journeys. You didn’t just switch back and forth willy-nilly. It wasn’t just a silly chant and BOOM and the same chant and back.
Disclaimer: I use Ozma as a stage name and I have a tattoo of a poppy on my back. I have formed a long friendship with a woman I met on LJ simply because we both had Oz-related icons. I have standards for children’s fantasy from this era that the Thimble People cannot ever meet.
After Pen Cil marks muslin for Mary, she starts learning how to make a tiny drawstring laundry bag for her doll’s future clothing. I have so many bags that I have made over the years that I did not make one. This blogger’s daughter did.
As Mary begins this project she meets Mr. Silver Thimble. He’s a tiny blowhard.
“I’m Thimble!” exclaimed a wee little voice, “and the reason I always wear my helmet, is that I want to wield my sword,” as Mary Frances lifted him out.
“I beg your Majesty’s pardon,” said the little fellow turning to Sewing Bird Fairy Lady—”but perhaps Miss Mary Frances doesn’t understand that all needles are my swords!”
Mr. Silver Thimble also transforms from a soldier to a normal thimble with the words: Nimble, nimble, Turn my thimble.
This makes some sense as you’d have to thrust your finger through the body of the soldier to use the thimble without the incantation.
None of this prepared me for Scissor Shears.
“Scissors Shears was strutting on tip-toe up and down the sewing table, closing up each time to take a step.
”Why,” said Mary Frances, slipping in, ”can you talk, too?”
“Can I talk?” exclaimed Scissors Shears in a growling voice. “Can I talk? Yes, and walk, too! As if I weren’t years older than that Sewing Bird—Rip ‘er up the back! Rip ‘er up the back! That conceited thing thinks she knows everything,—why I could tell you all about how to cut out anything. Why, I know all about cutting things out! I can even cut myself!”
Yeah. That’s alarming. I guess scissors exist to cut but…yeah.
Of course, Scissor Shears can also transform.
“Scissors-and-Shears, Scissors-and-Shears, Now change your ears. Now change your ears”
At which point the scissors become a scissors-rabbit hybrid. This doesn’t change the scissors’ usefulness. Either way, you have to plunge your finger through the creature’s eyes to use him. It makes no sense.
Scissors Shears soon goes on another odd rant. FairyLady touches him with her wand, he collapses on the table, and she reassures Mary.
“I can control him when I have my wand. If he’s ever rude, and you want me, say the magic verse I taught you.”
“Oh, thank you,” said Mary Frances, smiling to herself.
“I guess if I pulled his ears real hard, he’d be good anyhow,” she thought, “but I’ll not let Sewing Bird know. All rabbits are controlled by their ears, and I’m sure he looks more like a rabbit than any other animal I can think of.”
I dearly hope Mary doesn’t attend a school with school pets. Rabbits are not controlled by their ears nor is there ever cause to pull on a rabbit’s ears.
I am also disturbed that Mary thinks controlling Scissor Shears with physical pain is fine just so long as Sewing Bird remains unaware of it.
And thus two more chapters end…and yet haunt me.