In My Dreams I Can Fly

Eveline Hasler, Author, Kathi Bhend, Illustrator , illus. by Käthi Bhend. NorthSouth $16.95 (24p) ISBN 978-0-7358-2259-7

Hasler's story of five wintering insects has many virtues—believable characters, lighthearted humor, and dreamy reflection among them—and Bhend's intricate artwork adds to the pleasure (the two previously collaborated on A Tale of Two Brothers ). A beetle, two worms and a grub have gathered food, though a caterpillar, who gathers only thread, says, “I don't need food. All I need are dreams.” Throughout the winter, the five play cards and gossip: “I dream every night too,” the grub tells the caterpillar. “In my dreams I can fly.” Changes unsettle the group as winter draws to an end—caterpillar can't be found—but spring brings transformation and discovery. Bhend's paintings, cross-sections of life underground, are united visually by the roots that spread like nerves through the soil, echoing the insects' sensitive feelings. Candlelight illuminates the friends' burrows, walnut and snail shells hold their food stores, while above leaves fly, snow falls, and flowers bloom, all in lacelike detail. The overall feeling is one of depth, and not just because the book takes place underground; it offers much to pore over and contemplate. Ages 3–up. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 12/21/2009
Release date: 11/01/2009
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