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Fran Baird Innes
Illustrated by Stanimir Stoilov
St. John's, Tuckamore Books, 1993. [32pp],
laminated boards, $14.95, ISBN 1-895387-29-9.
Distibuted by Creative Publishers. CIP

Preschool-grade 1 / Ages 4-6

Reviewed by Theo Hersh

Volume 22 Number 3
1994 May/June

Mae awakes to the crash of thunder. The storm frightens her, but she tries to be brave. She is anxious to get a good night's sleep because the next day is a very special day.

Mae shouts at the storm. A menacing cloud turns into beak-faced Thor, the god of thunder. He takes Mae on a trip of his world in the sky and she shows him the lights of the harbour. The storm subsides; Mae returns to her room and gets up for her first day of school.

This book about a little girl's reaction to a thunder storm is a confused blend of realism and fantasy. Mae is grounded in the real world: she is frightened by the storm and worries about getting enough sleep for school. Suddenly she is swept up into the world of Thor. This shift does not emanate from Mae's imagination, but from something outside her. Even in the sky Mae is not as interested in Thor's world as she is in seeing her own world. The fantasy elements conflict with Mae's point of view and seem misplaced. In the end, the resolution of Mae's fear feels somehow false or at least artificial.

Stanimir Stoilov has introduced an Eastern European flavour to the illustrations. Water-colour is the appropriate medium for this rainy story, producing a misty effect and giving a softness to the edges. There is a dreamlike, and sometimes a nightmarish, quality to the illustrations!

Its theme is appropriate for young listeners, but  Mae's Night Flight does not work as a reasurring story about overcoming the fear of thunder storms.

Theo Hersh is a children's librarian with the Toronto Public Library in Toronto, Ontario

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