Siblings Terry and Eric Fan (The Night Gardener) craft a winsome world of bugs and botanicals in this meticulously drawn story of outsize wonder and greed, disproportionate to its diminutive setting.
"It fell from the sky on a Thursday," the narrator says of a gleaming orb that lands among the dandelions and mesmerizes the local bug and small wildlife population. The cat's-eye marble, transparent except for twists of lemon yellow, kelly green and turquoise, is luminous against the grayscale landscape. The black-and-white inhabitants can't identify it. Meanwhile, the Spider skulks in the margins, spinning. In the morning, he insists he owns the Wonder from the Sky. "After all," he says, "it fell right into my web." The other creatures don't remember the web being there the day before, "but in fairness nobody remembered it not being there either." The Spider raises an exhibit around the marble and charges one leaf per ticket. He grows wealthy until rising prices drive away his audience, and a "five-legged creature" readers will recognize as a child's hand takes the Wonder "back to the sky." Deserted, the Spider repents his selfishness and uses webs to catch more colorful objects from the sky, building a free sculpture garden for his community.
The Fans create a satisfying vintage feel with their playfully formal diction and detailed graphite and digital illustrations, which mix realism and whimsy. Each exquisitely detailed spread invites a longer, closer look, and the restrained palette's grayscale and color contrast recalls the film The Wizard of Oz. Only the items "from the sky" and the leaf currency are in color, suggesting their otherworldly quality and allure. Fans of David Wiesner should especially love this immersive miniature world where marbles are marvels and community spirit triumphs over filthy leaves--er, lucre. --Jaclyn Fulwood, youth experience manager, Dayton Metro Library