Flying Dimitri

Blair Drawson, Author Orchard Books (NY) $14.95 (40p) ISBN 978-0-531-30037-4
The hero of this disembodied tale lives with his father in a house with ""lots and lots of rooms."" On his dad's birthday, Dimitri gives Dad a tie, brushes his teeth, then ""zoom[s] up to the ceiling through the top of my head."" His likeness then flies out the window and over the ocean, where he frolics with whales before heading to Mars. With no context for his sudden trip, the turn of events becomes confusing. Pale, penguin-like Martians on wheels mourn the loss of their ""treasure,"" a ""beautiful lady"" held captive by a dragon whom Dimitri outwits. Returning the woman to the overjoyed creatures, he asks her, abruptly, ""Are you my mother?"" He gets no response, only a sideways stare, so the child tumbles back through space to his oversized, empty house, where Dad is sporting his new tie. For any child who has lost a parent, to death or divorce, there is little reassurance even with the boy's defeat of the dragon. Drawson's (Mary Margaret's Tree) stylized, protean illustrations flirt with the surreal and tamper playfully with perspective as Dimitri soars from the deep, variegated blues of the sea to the barren, tawny craters of Mars. All the elements of the classic quest are here, but because they don't unite and the hero doesn't divulge what he's thinking, the overall mood is one of somber tones and lonely characters that may leave children feeling frightened. Ages 4-7. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/01/1997
Release date: 09/01/1997
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