Bird, Butterfly, Eel

James Prosek, Author, James Prosek, Illustrator . S&S $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-689-86829-0

Jewellike colors, skilled draftsmanship and intelligent composition bring readers right into the world of a trio of migrating animals. In a series of watercolors set in New England, Prosek (A Good Day's Fishing ) enlivens his exploration of the life cycles of a barn swallow, a monarch butterfly and an American eel by introducing a sleek black cat into the spreads. She tips her nose up to the low-flying Butterfly, watches Bird as she feeds her nestlings and sits at the edge of Eel's pond (when they've gone south, she lies on an artist's table and sulks). Double-page spreads split horizontally into three panels to convey simultaneous action, and the aerial and underwater views add excitement. Prosek's lean text instructs simply: “[Eel] is eating insects and small fish and storing up energy for her long swimming journey ahead.” The few moments where he does allow himself poetic license stand out by contrast (“Eel's young, small as toothpicks and clear as glass, swim up the creek to the pond”). Even very young readers with an interest in the natural world will relish Prosek's intimate portraits. Ages 6–10. (Feb.)

Reviewed on: 02/16/2009
Release date: 02/01/2009
Genre: Children's
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