cover image FLAMINGO DREAM


Donna Jo Napoli, , illus. by Cathie Felstead. . HarperCollins/Greenwillow, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-688-16796-7

Told in the ingenuous voice of a girl who loses her father to cancer, this awkward story begins with a meandering account of a trip the youngster and her dad take to his childhood home in Florida. The girl reports a somewhat inane conversation about flamingos, who "wouldn't really want to fly away. Flamingos know that Florida is the best place to be in winter." The tale takes a poignant turn when her father goes "to the hospital for therapy"—offering the first hint of his illness—and she "held a cold cloth on his forehead afterward because he felt so bad. I did everything for him that Mamma did when we were at home." Back at home, the girl and her parents talk about the cancer; her mother says the father will die. When her father's friends visit after his death, each brings a plastic pink flamingo, and the girl and her mother eventually sprinkle his ashes around them. The flamingos disappear in a blizzard and the girl concludes that they went "back to Florida for the winter. And they took Daddy with them." Felstead's (Big Wolf and Little Wolf) collage art, befitting the narrative voice, mimics a child's crayon drawings. Despite the narrator's candid, affecting reactions, readers may find the storytelling more puzzling than comforting. Ages 5-up. (Apr.)