Review of Wildflowers

Wildflowers
by Liniers; illus. by the author
Primary    TOON    40 pp.    g
4/21    978-1-943145-53-9    $12.95

Liniers (The Big Wet Balloon, rev. 9/13; Good Night, Planet, rev. 1/18) presents a charming celebration of nature, siblinghood, and imaginative play. As three sisters play together on a mysterious island (their backyard), they encounter a plane crash, a tiny gorilla, talking flowers, a dragon, and more. The dragon isn’t vanquished until the magic of play is ­broken by a voice calling the girls in for dinner. (“Only ­reality can kill a dragon.”) As the children run inside, visuals of their scattered playthings reveal the everyday toys and crafts that inspired their creative ideas. A smiley-faced flower in the final spread hints to readers that there might be more mystery in the world than we suspect. Liniers has a strong command of ink and watercolors, as well as of the comics medium, effectively employing panel sizes, close-ups, and layouts to build suspense and pace readers through the thrilling but never-too-scary adventures. Short sentences, repetition, and numbered pages offer additional support for beginning readers, à la Abby Hanlon’s Dory ­Fantasmagory (2014). The sibling relationship is delineated with care and realism; the sisters enjoy the freedom of storytelling and look to one another for guidance as they build on — and sometimes disagree with — various narrative ideas. (“Giraffes don’t growl! And we already have a tiny animal.”) Endpapers show the characters featured amongst wildflowers in what resembles a spread from a field guide.

From the July/August 2021 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Elisa Gall

Elisa Gall is a teacher-librarian at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools. 

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