cover image The Boy Who Looked for Spring

The Boy Who Looked for Spring

Susan Fleischman. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt P, $15.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-15-210699-7

This book centers on a boy looking for spring who is told by a mystical fox (with a voice ``like crackling leaves'') that to awaken Mother Earth, there are several tasks he must accomplish. He is successful at each, and so Mother Earth gives birth to her child, Spring. Though his quest takes place ``a long time ago,'' the boy we read about appears contemporary by fairytale standards. The words that come out of his mouth--in song form--do not jibe with his otherwise plain speech. And this inconsistency is characteristic of the overall problem here: the timelessness for which the tale seems to strive and the book's modern-day look and sound never quite reconcile. Moreover, Fleischman's lengthy text--with its rather unconvincing mix of realism and old-time sorcery--soon becomes tedious and heavy-handed. Understated to the point of banality, Diamond's artwork is warm with spring colors, but no movement meets the eye. Since there is little action to illustrate, the pictures function more as (occasionally attractive) portraiture, though the boy looks disturbingly sad throughout and Mother Earth resembles a '60s flower child. A limp, disappointing work. Ages 6-10. (Mar.)