Firefly lived in the park across from her mother’s home. It was safer there. But after the bad night happens, and her baseball-bat-wielding mother is taken away, social services sends Firefly to live with her Aunt Gayle. She hardly knows Gayle, but discovers that she owns a costume shop.
Yes, Firefly might be suffering from PTSD, but she can get used to taking baths, sleeping on a bed again, and wearing as many costumes as she can to school.
But where is “home”? What is “family”? Who is Firefly, for that matter … and which costume is the real one?
Philippa Dowding has won many awards and has had poetry and short fiction published in journals across Canada. Her children’s books have been nominated for numerous literary awards in Canada, the U.S., and Europe, including the SYRCA Diamond Willow, OLA Silver Birch, OLA Red Maple, and Hackmatack awards. In 2017, she won the OLA Silver Birch Express Honor Book award for Myles and the Monster Outside. Dowding currently lives in Toronto, ON.
“Firefly was an enjoyable read filled with interesting characters, emotional moments, and mental health awareness and education. A realistic book that youth may easily relate to. Highly Recommended”
— Stephanie Johnson
“I believe the author provides readers who have had a hard life some comfort in knowing that others go through troubled times too and gives others a glimpse into harsh realities that some kids endure. The book is enlightening and invokes empathy in the reader. ”
— Ashlynne N., Age 13
“This is a terrific read from an accomplished author. ”
— Monica Kulling, author of <i>Mary Anning's Curiosity</i>
“In this affecting novel, 13-year-old Firefly is sent to stay with a relative, after her mother gets taken into custody. Life with Aunt Gayle, who owns The Corseted Lady costume shop, offers a beacon of light out of the darkness of the “Bad Night. ” Firefly’s compelling story unfolds through her indomitable and spirited first-person narration, and flashbacks revisit her troubled childhood of neglect and parental struggles with addiction. Aunt Gayle’s care and kindness wraps around Firefly like a comforting, hand-knit blanket. Being surrounded by steadfast support, along with seven million costumes in the shop, allows Firefly the opportunity to try on different identities and begin to discover her true self in the process. ”
— Linda Ludke, Collections Management Librarian, London Public Library
“I know Philippa Dowding is better known for her speculative fiction like Oculum, The Strange Gift of Gwendolyn Golden and Everton Miles is Stranger than Me but I think her first foray into realistic fiction has demonstrated that she has important messages to share and she doesn't need to dress them up in the fantastical. Reality can be just as powerful and colourful, even if stitched with anguish. ”
— Helen Kubiw
“In Firefly, Philippa Dowding presents serious topics such as homelessness and mental health in a way that fosters the readers’ compassion for the dramatis personae, thus allowing them to develop sympathy for the characters that are often vilified. The novel would be useful as a natural segue to the mental health literacy component of the curriculum for senior elementary students. ”
— Robin Ahamedi