cover image Rainbow Wings

Rainbow Wings

Joanne Ryder. HarperCollins, $15.95 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-688-14128-8

If Ryder adheres closely to the ground for Each Living Thing (reviewed above), she takes to the sky for this lyrical science lesson cloaked in a winged fantasy. A digital illustrator and designer, Lee (Where Did All the Dragons Go?) prominently features an otherworldly white-winged cat, who first appears in the frontmatter, trotting down the side of a double rainbow and pulling a cloud-covered wagon. Her card announces, ""Rainbow Wings, Inc./ Seraphina Cat, Proprietor,"" and its reverse side invites readers to ""Look under the rainbows [to] find the wings of your fancy."" With the feline as their host, four children then try on the wings of 10 different creatures--owl, hummingbird, bat, etc.--until each settles on his or her favorite pair. (An appendix contains additional information about each species.) Ryder includes both scientific information (monarch wings can ""carry you/ thousands of miles"") as well as poetic descriptions (their wings ""glow/ bright as marigolds,/ edged like stained glass""). However, the graceful imagery does not completely overcome the reined format of Seraphina's sales pitch and the somewhat repetitive language about the splendor of soaring. Lee's compositions, on the other hand, are consistently haunting and elegantly designed. Dragonflies are etched with glinting silver, and butterflies seem to envelop readers in the yellow glow of sunlight. Ages 5-10. (Mar.)