One girl, Frances, saw little green men and delicate flying fairies. She told her older cousin, Elsie, who thought it would be a good joke to take some pictures, so she painted and cut out fairies and with the help of some hatpins and a borrowed camera they took the photos that would become famous.
It's hard to look back at these photos from a modern perspective and see how people were so easily fooled, but the theme that runs through this story is that people see what they want to see. The Theosophists already believed in fairies and were just looking for the proof of what they already "knew". Mary Losure tells the story of two girls, one who believed in fairies and one who just wanted to prove her artistic ability and the photos that became unexpectedly famous.
The book includes a lot of original documents, mostly letters, and there's additional information in the bibliography and author's note. This is pretty short for a nonfiction chapter book, under 200 pages, including back matter, but it's really a fairly brief story. Although the cousins gave some interviews near the end of their lives and they have living descendants, there's really not that much information on their lives as children.
I have a hard time thinking of an audience for this story, at least at my library. All my fairy fans are little girls in love with pink sparkles and my history buffs are generally boys who want books about war. It's not exciting or funny enough to appeal to the kids who would normally like a book about a good hoax. One of the big appeals of this story is the connection to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and while I'm guessing quite a few kids are vaguely familiar with Sherlock due to the various movies and television shows, I don't think many of them know much about the creator.
Verdict: This could work if booktalked for its haunting, mysterious quality and the odd bits about the story - did Frances really see fairies? What about the final photograph that the girls didn't pose for? - but it's not something I can see having wide appeal. It has gotten a lot of enthusiastic reviews, so I may be wrong, but it seems like a niche book that needs a bigger library than mine to find its niche.