cover image Butterfly Boy

Butterfly Boy

Virginia Kroll. Boyds Mills Press, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-1-56397-371-0

Striking artwork distinguishes this tale of Emilio and his invalid grandfather, Abuelo, who are visited one afternoon by a flock of red admiral butterflies. Watching them, Emilio knows his grandfather is ""smiling inside, even though his mouth could no longer show it."" In winter, they research the butterflies and eagerly await their return. But when Emilio's father paints the garage blue (red admirals like white surfaces), it's up to the boy to ensure they'll come back to delight his grandfather. Kroll's (Masai and I) prose is deft and assured, her pacing impeccable, and the affectionate relationship between Emilio and his grandfather rings true. Mexican artist Suzan plays up the Latino flavor with a fiesta-bright palette, and, with a nod to magical realism, he serves up dreamlike images that float and hover against a cerulean backdrop. Hats dissolve into flowers, birds and cloud-dappled skies, while the flattened planes of the characters' sculptural faces mirror the strength and solidity of totems. The eye-catching images will draw readers in; the affecting story will sustain their interest. Ages 5-8. (May)