cover image Mel Fell

Mel Fell

Corey R. Tabor. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-06-287801-4

With Mama Kingfisher temporarily away from the nest, a tangerine-and-turquoise-hued chick named Mel confidently strides out to the edge of a very high tree branch and announces that she’s going to learn how to fly. “It sure is a long drop,” observes one of her considerably more cautious siblings, which is a cue for the narrative and visual arc of this story by Tabor (Snail Crossing) to take a decidedly funny downward turn. The mixed media drawings, alive with wonderful textures and soft colors, show Mel executing an impressive aerial somersault before blithely hurtling headfirst in parallel with the tree trunk as inhabitants below are thrown into comic panic, convinced that Mel’s dive-bombing will result in disaster. An owl family looks on with alarm, a spider tries to catch her with all eight hands, and a good-hearted, slow-moving slug makes a clearly impossible promise: “I... will... catch... you...!” Just as the trajectory looks bleak, Mel hits the previously unrevealed water below—the white background turns beautiful shades of blue—and shows, through a wonderful visual surprise, that she’s a kingfisher through and through. (An endnote provides more info on the species.) “Hope” may be the thing with feathers, but Mel proves that “gutsy” can be, too. Ages 4–8. [em]Agent: Rebecca Sherman, Writers House. (Feb.) [/em]