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Franklin the Fly

R. O. Blechman, Author
R. O. Blechman, Author . Creative Editions $17.95 (40p) ISBN 978-1-56846-148-9
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Similar in topic (if not in comic spirit) to Doreen Cronin and Harry Bliss’s recent Diary of a Fly , this oddball memoir shares a fly’s philosophies. Franklin the fly first appears against a grandly mixed-up Manhattan backdrop, with landmarks like the Flatiron, Empire State and Chrysler buildings rearranged in a dense jumble. Franklin bemoans the threats in an urban bug’s life, from getting swatted or stepped on to caught in flypaper (“My Uncle Warren lost almost his entire family last summer”). He muses that he prefers being a fly to being a “delicious” animal like a pig or chicken, then conjures an image of a sedate butcher with a bloody apron and knife: “Suddenly,... Slice! ... you become somebody else’s meal!” Rather than linger on such disturbing thoughts, the easily distracted Franklin buzzes on to other ideas. He expounds on art, loneliness and flypaper again before the book’s only real action sequence, where he saves a butterfly from becoming trapped in a net. Blechman, a New Yorker cover artist, expertly cartoons his chatty hero’s world in a wavery, non-continuous line with daubs of diluted watercolor. His dotty hand-lettering, reminiscent of fly specks, complements the ethereal illustrations. Yet the flighty narrative leaves readers not with a story but with insubstantial observations and loose ends. Ages 7-up. (Oct.)

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