cover image FIRST FLIGHT


Sara Fanelli, . . Cape, $14.95 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-224-06457-6

In collages created with paper scraps from many countries and words in many languages ("Voler! Volare! Fly!"), an earth-bound Butterfly travels in search of a flying teacher. After hatching from her chrysalis, she struggles to get airborne and writes to a newspaper for help. "Hundreds of letters arrived from flight experts all over the world! Butterfly took the first plane available to consult the most famous expert of all." She visits the Italian inventor Leonardo (clad in Renaissance costume), who tethers her to a mechanical contraption, and Mr. Papillon, who instructs her to leap from the Eiffel Tower. A Chinese kitemaker ties her to one of his creations, and a Brazilian dancer shoots her from a cannon. (Oddly, at least for U.S. audiences, Butterfly does not meet an Orville or a Wilbur.) Each time she glides, Butterfly exults, "How happy am I, at last I can fly!" until her ignominious descent. When she finally does take wing, it is by accident, when her mother calls her. In Fanelli's (Mythological Monsters of Ancient Greece) multimedia collages, Butterfly has a girl's face, in a half-moon-shaped profile, and a body made of jumbled alphabetical letters. Her four narrow, rounded wings resemble a dragonfly's. The narrative, printed in tiny type, plays second banana to the wildly patterned, hit-or-miss collages; the more successful compositions focus on the early preparations for and return from the heroine's journey, rather than the interactions with the instructors. Although the fanciful artwork implies innovation, the round-the-world trip and stereotypical foreigners fall flat. Ages 5-9. (July)