cover image Glasswings: A Butterfly Story

Glasswings: A Butterfly Story

Elisa Kleven. Dial, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-8037-3742-6

As a “glasswing” butterfly with transparent wings, Claire blends in with her surroundings. In a rural area, that means flowers or ferns, but when the wind sweeps her into “a city of concrete and corners,” her wings take on the colors of traffic lights, sidewalks, and buildings. Kleven (The Friendship Wish) blends kaleidoscopic patterns with naïf forms (Claire herself resembles a child’s drawing), creating a vivid patchwork effect. The skyline resembles a quilt with clouds of boiled wool; apartment windows become tapestries of faces and collage prints, while newsprint gives gritty texture to a fledgling community garden. As a girl waters the flowers, Claire and the birds and bugs she has met help cultivate the urban ecosystem: “Claire fluttered among the flowers, sipping their nectar, carrying their sticky yellow pollen from plant to plant.... The ant stirred up the soil they grew in. The pigeon scattered their seeds this way and that.” Readers won’t mind the airy storyline or sentimentality; the radiance of each spread seems purely intended to provoke joy, kindheartedness, and optimism. Ages 3–5. (May.)