Well, do you?
I have a confession.
I have been living a secret (ok it’s not much of a secret anymore) double life for almost a year now.
I … am a book fairy!
In The Beginning
It started innocently enough, a chat one day at the end of our monthly book club.
Wouldn’t it be fab said Alli, Book Fairy #1, if instead of Pokemon people were out searching for books…
Becky (Book Fairy #2) and I wholeheartedly agreed with her. And so we had a clandestine book wrapping evening at my house. In the beginning, we labelled our books with precise instructions that we hand wrote (and Book Fairy #1 later had printed):
Join in the fun:
– Tell us what you thought
– re-wrap me
– Hide me
– Post a clue
And details of where to find us online.
It was exciting in the beginning. No one knew who was hiding books, though rumours were rife. Hiding the books was a challenge and a thrill; trying to leave them in easy to spot areas of the town whilst remaining unobserved. Plenty of time spent on the way back from the school run “checking my phone”.
Then finding any excuse to drive past where a book had been left to discover if it was still there or not…
And the joy when it wasn’t!
The Secret was Out
Interest was growing as more and more books were being put out. Kidwelly was responding positively to our little book hunt, especially the children. I had to pretend to my own daughter that I had no idea who was hiding these books her friends were finding, but maybe we’d find one on our way home…
We started planning themed hunts, which worked well at Christmas and again on Dydd Santes Dwynwen and St Valentine’s.
We were starting to gain attention now. The local press wrote about us, maintaining our anonymity and simply referring to us as “book fairies”. Then we started getting requests for interviews, from the Welsh TV show Prynhawn Da, the Welsh news show Wales Today and it’s Welsh language counterpart Cymru Fyw, BBC’s Radio Wales and Swansea Bay TV. We were overjoyed when even our local Assembly Member Lee Waters wanted to get involved and asked if he could meet us!
It became impossible to keep hold of our secret, and it was at this time that my mother dropped the bombshell that she’d been telling everyone for months that it was us; she hadn’t realised we were trying to keep it secret.
It was a shame to lose our subterfuge, but support was flooding in. An elderly gentleman contacted the Kidwelly Town Council; he had seen us on the news and had a couple of boxes of books he’d like to donate to us. Publishers and authors got in touch, sending us packages of books, some signed, to join the hunt.
With each mention of our Kidwelly Book Hunt we were humbled and grateful, our popularity seemed to be growing and growing.
Things soon started to slow down.
We began to get reports of books being damaged; people were finding our wrappings strewn in the street, or worse, books ripped apart. It was heartbreaking. We couldn’t understand why, if someone didn’t like what we were doing, why they had to ruin it for the many people who did?
We were starting to hear less and less of people rehiding the books, and despite having put out in excess of two hundred books by this point, we weren’t seeing many being put back into the community. Were people keeping them for themselves? Were we making it too difficult to people? Or were they simply sharing amongst their friends and family without making it public?
We had no way of knowing, and this, coupled with the destruction, began to leave us feeling disillusioned. What was the point to what we were doing? The idea had been to get the whole community sharing books, hiding them for others to enjoy them.
The original excitement has faded a little. Any project is going to meet with bumps along the road, but each bump will leave you feeling differently.
We’re still persevering though, and there are so many who do believe in us. Messages from the public telling us how they’ve found a book, or clues to where they’ve rehidden a book; absolutely make our day
Now, we try and take part in initiatives (World Book Night was fun!) and we try and spread the hunt a little further. We take our books with us on day trips and holidays, and we always get a great response from people further afield. We’re still keeping it local too though, and we’ve even been joined by a fourth Book Fairy. We’ve slowed down a little, but we’re not stopping.
Would you like to become a book fairy?
Anyone can be a book fairy; since we started last year, it’s become a very popular pastime made famous by Emma Watson. You can find the official Book Fairies here on Twitter or you can visit their website, where you can send off for stickers to put on your books and buy ribbons and all sorts of gubbins.
Or you can go it alone like we did, pick up some parcel paper from the bargain shop and raid your own shelves (or the charity shop if you’re a selfish hoarder like myself). I’d recommend making it clear that it is a FREE BOOK (we had so many reports of people seeing a book and not picking it up because they thought it wasn’t for them?) and popping your book in something weather proof (we use plastic wallets traditionally used for filing).
If you would like to show your support for the Kidwelly Book Hunt, please get in touch! We love hearing from people. You can find us on:
I’ll leave you with some instances demonstrating that getting a good photo for your clue isn’t always easy…