cover image ANGEL FACE


Sarah Weeks, , illus. by David Diaz. . S&S/Atheneum, $17.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-689-83302-1

Weeks (Mrs. McNosh Hangs Up Her Wash) awkwardly balances prose and poetry in this sometimes lyrical if sentimental story of a boy who, intrigued by a butterfly, wanders off while his mother picks blackberries. After setting this scene in a wordy and stiff narrative, the author abruptly changes tempo and tone and switches to rhymed verses. The verses recount how a sleeping crow awakens to the crying of the mother, who begs the bird to find her missing son and explains how to recognize him: "Angel's eyes are dusty almonds,/ Angel's mouth's a mango sliver,/ Angel's skin is steeping tea,/ Angel's hair's a rushing river." The crow spots a boy asleep in a thicket, but because the child's face is "plainer than a cricket," he concludes that this can't be the extraordinary Angel. Readers may wonder why the author chose to describe the child this way. Nevertheless the crow does not want to reappear empty-handed, and he leads the lad to the woman, who welcomes her son with open arms. On an accompanying CD (see Children's Audio Notes, February 4), Weeks sings the verses in a clear, appealing voice of impressive range. Caldecott Medalist Diaz's (Smoky Night) intentionally grainy, large-scale pastels add brilliant, jewel-toned hues to the outdoor setting. The use of dotted and whorl patterns—in the mother's old-fashioned clothing, the flowers and foliage—enhances the visual appeal, while the artist's varying zoom-in, zoom-out focus helps relay to readers the mother's unconditional love for her son. Ages 3-7. (Apr.)