cover image Flora's Very Windy Day

Flora's Very Windy Day

Jeanne Birdsall, illus. by Matt Phelan, Clarion, $16 (32p) ISBN 978-0-618-98676-7

Birdsall's (The Penderwicks) crisp and delightful first picture book shares the virtues of her successful middle-grade novels: believable characters, a tightly constructed story line, and a nod to past children's literature—here, to the no-nonsense magic of the Edwardians. Big sister Flora must kick off her cherished "super-special heavy-duty red boots" to be borne aloft so she can rescue her brother, Crispin, when the wind blows him away. They meet a cloud, a sparrow, and other characters, all of whom make the same request: "Will you give me that little boy?" Although Crispin has spilled Flora's paints, and the creatures seem to know that she sometimes wishes to be rid of him, the encounters only strengthen Flora's resolve to bring Crispin home. "My mother wouldn't like it if I lost him," she says. Phelan's (The Storm in the Barn) rosy-cheeked Flora and dumplinglike Crispin float idyllically all the way to the moon. Yet the story contains the occasional whiff of menace ("If the wind lets you," each creature replies when Flora says she'll be taking him home). Never mind—the danger is no match for Flora. Ages 5–8. (Aug.)