Her parents having ""disappeared in the Swiss Alps,"" Hilda Louise lives with the other 109 residents of the affectionately named ""Chez Mez Petits Choux orphanage at 97, rue Saint-Julien-le-Pauvre, Paris."" Through no particular longing or design of her own, Hilda Louise develops a ""newfound talent""--floating. One day she's simply swept away, escaping the boredom of the orphanage (""Already she had embroidered 2,357 handkerchiefs""), floating over a field where a painter has set up his easel, past the spires of Notre Dame, into the open window of the painter's studio. The painter turns out to be none other than her long-lost uncle. Hilda Louise gets a new home, while back at the orphanage another child hovers overhead. Dunrea (The Painter Who Loved Chickens, 1995, etc.) has created a tartly written fantasy that lacks any sense of motivation, but the paintings are among his finest ever. Like Madeline-through-the-looking-glass, the scenes are precise and magical at the same time.