garden in Wichita Falls, Tex., unites two unlikely friends one October morning. Hurry, a tortoise, becomes a landing pad for a monarch butterfly making a momentary pit stop on her 2,000-mile migration to Mexico. Neither tortoise nor butterfly can grasp the other's point of view. The butterfly, whose brusque, driven personality makes a comic contrast to elegant, aerodynamic body, suggests to the genially sluggish tortoise, "Maybe one day you'll break out of that shell, grow wings, and fly away.... It happened to me." Hurry, on the other hand, shares his
strategy for the winter, "Sleep.... Cold days always change back into warm days if you wait." As the monarch continues on her way, joining others like her, So (Countdown to Spring!
) fills the pages with clouds of orange that seem to light up the sky and ignite trees and bushes. Flatharta (The Prairie Train
) softens the conversational narrative and introduces a sense of wonder ("She hangs from a bough, adding her tired wings to the soft murmur of a million others"). Without lecturing, the author impresses upon readers the magnitude of the events. The conclusion brings the life cycle full circle, as the monarch returns to Hurry's garden to drop her eggs—and Hurry gets a front row seat at the egg's amazing transformation. In the space of a brief picture book, Flatharta and So endow a biological phenomenon with fully realized characters, creating a work that's by turns funny, wistful and informative. Children will likely put down this book and look at the world with new eyes. Ages 5-8. (June)