I was thinking about the nature of the stories told children about tiny little creatures in the garden that you can't see, and that do magical things by living their lives, and it occurred to me: why do we even bother with fairies, except perhaps as teachable analogues for soil life?
Next, it occurred to me to wonder if there was a "Fairy Book" publication for children, but treating soil life in a factual but whimsical way.
And finally, I wondered what it would take to make one. I think I can do it.
Has anyone seen a children's book that turned soil biota into characters in a sort of guidebook?
Imagine, a page each, telling the story of the earthworm, the springtail, the slime mould, with their own illustrations, whimsical descriptions of what they do and how they do it, and their importance to the bigger picture.
Imagine sketches of microorganisms as they would appear under a microscope, such that the shape and characteristics are memorable, and at the same time fit into its own fanastical world.
Who would the characters be? Would there be antagonists, and if so, who? Is there anything I might think about or do to make it more enticing to children?
A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.
-Robert A. Heinlein
I think this is an absolutely delightful idea, and totally a book I'd want to have for my kids.
Maybe the microrganisms and soil creatures could transform into fairies that resemble them (now you totally got me itching to draw and make some soil fairies, LOL!).
Perhaps the "antagonists" could be the anaerobes or other microbiota that don't get along--their relationships could be discussed in story form.
Or, it could be a tale of the microrganisms transforming into fairies to teach a farmer's son not to till (this appears to be a relatively common trope in environmental books, as I've seen similar iterations in at least two books).
I think having a quality artist (not me! Someone like Tracy Wandling!) and a great plot would make or break the book. I've read one of the Herb Fairy books (I think you can download the first one for free), and the low quality art and contrived story line kind of drove me nuts, making me not want to buy any more. But, the Herb Fairy concept is a good one, and I think Soil Fairies would be totally awesome.