cover image Flyaway Girl

Flyaway Girl

Ann Grifalconi. Little Brown and Company, $15.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-316-32866-1

To tell its African story, Grifalconi's latest employs dramatically composed collages of photographic images (primarily from National Geographic ) coupled with indigenous woodcut decorations. The overall effect, while exotic and authentic-seeming, is darker than traditional picture-book art--the somewhat somber tone may limit the work's child appeal. The author tells about a girl named Nsia (``Flyaway,'' so-called because she is always off exploring) who must help her mother prepare for the New Year's celebration. When the girl goes off in search of reeds to make baskets, she is aided by the spirits of her ancestors, who guide her to the proper location: ``Each day we are with you / binding all to life.'' The strength of the text lies in its mystical, rhapsodic flow, but the story lacks a potent finish to impart real narrative force. Still, the welcome African slice-of-life incorporates a positive, growing-into-young-womanhood tale. Ages 4-8. (Oct.)