cover image Icarus Swinebuckle

Icarus Swinebuckle

Michael Garland. Albert Whitman & Company, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8075-3495-3

Hazy, computer-generated illustrations lend a surreal quality to this tale of a pig who (ever so briefly) flies. Icarus Swinebuckle, a cobbler in 18th-century London, would rather build flying-machine models than repair his clients' shoes. Despite a frightening visit from his landlord, a long-nosed gray wolf named Mr. Gnawbone, Icarus persists in creating a pair of wings made from goose feathers and wax. Animals in waistcoats and breeches watch as the winged pig first soars above the rooftops, then plummets into the muddy Thames, where he ""pop[s] to the surface like a fuzzy pink cork."" Garland turns the original story of hubris into one of redemption and qualified success. Icarus fails to stay aloft, yet earns the admiration of his young son, his dissatisfied customers and even Mr. Gnawbone. Unfortunately, the images do not stir up sympathy for the visionary title character. Like the other animals in this eerie-looking book, Icarus has shiny eyes that dominate an amorphous face. The characters and settings look out of focus, as if viewed through the wrong contact-lens prescription, and the muddy palette of olive and gray adds to the unappetizing effect. Ages 7-9. (Mar.)