cover image When Aunt Mattie Got Her Wings

When Aunt Mattie Got Her Wings

Petra Mathers. S&S/Beach Lane, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-4814-1044-1

Best friends Lottie the chicken and Herbie the duck from Lottie’s New Beach Towel and its sequels face the death of Lottie’s Aunt Mattie. Their sorrow is palpable, yet the story requires familiarity with Mathers’s characters. When Herbie learns that Mattie is ailing, he protests that she is a nurse. “She isn’t sick; she’s ninety-nine years old,” Lottie replies. “You mean it’s like her motor is all worn out?” Herbie asks, his metaphor complicating the information about nursing and old age. Lottie hurries to the hospital and finds Mattie gazing out the window at a billboard picturing a passenger jet; after a bit of conversation, Mattie closes her eyes peacefully. A wordless page pictures a group of birds welcoming Mattie to a plane labeled “Out of This World Airlines”—the source of the book’s euphemistic title. Mathers’s landscape layout moves the action ahead in placid, thoughtful, comics-style panels; Herbie arrives to comfort Lottie, and the friends celebrate Mattie’s life and scatter her ashes. Heartfelt though it is, this tale muddles the common experience of grief with distracting extraneous details. Ages 4–8. (Sept.)