The Serif Fairy

Rene Siegfried’s The Serif Fairy is not your traditional picture book, but I found it utterly charming. The poor little Serif Fairy has lost one of her wings and without it, she can do no magic. So she sets off through the Garamond Forest to the Zenetar Gate, from Futura City to the depths of Lake Shelley on a quest for her missing wing.


See, the Serif Fairy is made up of characters in the Shelley Andante typeface. That’s just a fancy word for font. And a serif? That’s a fancy word for this:

Those little lines at the edges of the letters are called serifs. Font designers use serifs to make letters flow from one to another. Serif fonts are used in books or other blocks of text. See: the text on the pages of The Serif Fairy. Also seen in many a wedding invitation, graduation announcement, or Marauder’s Map.

And compare those letterforms to the word above set in pink, ‘SERIFS.’  Wild-and-crazily enough, that word is actually set in a typeface called a sans-serif, because it doesn’t have those little lines. Sans-serif fonts are generally chosen for headlines or other need-to-be-especially-readable places. See: the  header at the top of this page. And my personal favorite style. Generally.

Similar to the illustrations in Bembo’s Zoo, each picture in The Serif Fairy is made up of characters from four typefaces. There are no serifs in Futura City, because Futura is a sans-serif font. Not surprisingly, that section was my favorite. Maybe because Futura is my favorite font. But also, the helicopter and the crane are AMAZING, right??

The Serif Fairy is such a wonder…uniquely crafted illustrations, combined with restrained pastel blocks of color representing land, water, and roads, and a sweet story.

Although this would be a tough read aloud, and the typography use might soar over the heads of little ones, it is a delightful must for lovers of type and design. And anyone that can say they have a favorite font.

One Comment

  • Posted November 30, 2011 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    How cute! I agree – it would be a hard read aloud, and maybe “over the heads” of kids, but I still love it! I know I would enjoy it. How do you find all these awesome books?