cover image Willa Bean’s Cloud Dreams

Willa Bean’s Cloud Dreams

Cecilia Galante, illus. by Kristi Valiant. Random, $4.99 trade paper (112p) ISBN 978-0-375-86947-1

The Little Wings series opens with this humorous adventure that introduces a strong-willed fledgling cupid whose mop of messy hair, “million-bajillion” freckles, and purple wings set her apart from her peers. Willa Bean’s unorthodox features don’t bother her a whit (a welcome nod toward embracing difference), but something else does: she’s starting class at Cupid Academy but hasn’t learned how to fly. That Willa Bean will surmount this problem isn’t in doubt, but Galante (The Summer of May) has fun getting there—it’s pretty easy to love a heroine who uses her unruly locks to store her snacks, as well as various treasures she finds in the clouds. The cupids’ cutesy talk (“Nope, nope-ity, nope, nope, nope!”) has a cartoony chirpiness that may test adults’ patience, but Galante’s sense of humor often hits the mark (after being called out for shouting when she has her climactic epiphany, “Willa Bean lowered her voice to a whisper-scream”). Burgeoning solo readers should find it easy to identify with iconoclastic Willa Bean’s foibles, exuberance, and school-day woes. Finished art not seen by PW. Ages 6–9. (Dec.)