This is a book my sister checked out from our Elementary School Library when we were kids. It’s a picture book. We read it some time between 1996–’99. Absolutely no later than 2001, as we moved to a different state and elementary school that year. I would guess that the book was published in the 80s or 90s. I thought the main character was a prince because I seem to remember him being dressed in fancy medieval purple clothes, but I’m not sure. I think it was just a medieval sort of setting in the story. My sister said she thought he was an artist who was sketching throughout the story. Obviously we don’t remember those details super well. I don’t remember how much text there was because I don’t think I was able to read when my sister got it and our mom read it to us. I don’t think it was a Golden book, but I’m honestly not sure about the cover or anything more technical like that. It MIGHT have been a taller book (rectangular and long on the vertical sides). I’m pretty darn sure it was a standard length bedtime story/picture book. What I remember the most is the major plot points, so that’s what’s most important to follow.
The boy (prince or artist) is out in a beautiful garden (I think he was trying to sketch flowers, but I’m not sure) and he finds a beautiful fairy inside a flower. I think he tries to draw her but decides to take her home so he has a better chance to do so. He keeps the fairy in his house by the window in a glass dome (just like the dome over the rose in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast) and he tries to draw her again but just isn’t able to capture her beauty. The fairy needs flowers to stay alive, so he surrounds her with vases full of beautiful flowers. I think he must have told someone about her or something because I think people from all over end up visiting to see her, and they bring flowers until the room she’s in is brimming full with flowers. (Maybe this was how he made money for a while?) One day/night when there are no visitors, he decides to try to draw the fairy again (either that or he just wants to look at her again because she’s so beautiful), and he realizes that she’s still dying despite all the tons and tons of flowers around her. He realizes that she has to be outside with the living flowers in order to remain beautiful and survive, so he decides to let her go. It was kind of a bittersweet ending, and I remember having the feeling that he would never see her again, but she would at least be alive.
The illustrations in this book were stunningly beautiful. They were more on the realistic end of the scale (NOT cartoony or made of scraps of paper or anything kitschy), and I think they were maybe pastels, watercolors, or colored pencil illustrations. I remember the main boy being blonde with bangs and almost shoulder-length hair (but I could be totally wrong about that). The fairy was the kind that was long, thin, and very elegant. I think she might have been dressed in a flower or dressed in very little, if at all. I remember lots of pictures of big, brightly colored flowers like Easter lilies, day lilies, and irises, etc. I have a specific memory of a two-page spread with the boy on the far left side looking at the fairy on the right side while it’s under the glass dome and next to the window, with a few flowers around it.
We both have absolutely no idea what the text in the book looks like (I only remember pictures), and we have absolutely no clue as to the title or author, but we’ve been wanting to find it and have kept our eyes peeled for 20+ years, so any help would be SO appreciated. So far I really haven’t found anything that seemed even a little bit similar.