Pill bug Hank’s day moves from ordinary to extraordinary when Amelia, a dark-skinned girl with huge eyes and black braids, gives him a ride on her pilot’s helmet.
Amelia’s appearance on the cover, gazing down at the diminutive, sweet-faced Hank, is a welcome addition to shelves groaning with light-skinned cover models. Amelia plays her stellar role after Hank begins his day. In large print against white paper, Hank’s daily ritual of crawling out from under a rock is related: as he “shimmies through tall grass” and “nibbles on a dead leaf.” Readers see and read about Hank’s world—including other insects—through his slow, ground-level progression, appropriately depicted in earth tones. Humorous labels (“weird worm”) are hand-lettered. One funny sequence shows Hank’s laborious climb up a tiny twig—his “exercise stick.” The climax arrives as Amelia carefully lifts Hank onto her helmet, then rushes around her yard, arms widespread, pretending to be Amelia Earhart. The narrative continues in large print, while speech bubbles are used for Amelia’s narration of their flight around the world: “In Paris, the plane just misses the Eiffel Tower.” After Amelia has set Hank back where she found him—a helpful hint to budding naturalists—Hank retraces his steps back to his home. The energy of art and text move seamlessly down to nighttime—and a young reader’s nap or bedtime.
Excellent layout, text, and illustrations make for a thoroughly satisfying story. (Picture book. 3-8)