Nature’s miniature whimsies bloom in Ukhova’s wordless picture-book debut, imported from Russia.
A far-off white airplane slips across the rich blue sky as a pale White child rests on a blanket in the middle of a lush green garden. An apple core sits just near their head, overtaken by a squadron of ants. The ants soon crawl over to the child’s face. Intrigued, the child walks over to the anthill. A caterpillar stirs in a pea pod when the child disturbs it, dropping it right beside the anthill. It happens in a series of seconds: The ants overtake the caterpillar and drag their spoils into their home. The child sees it all, with a look of dismay creeping onto their face. The caterpillar’s demise plays out over just a few pages, and it ends almost as soon as it starts, but Ukhova mitigates the small-scale viciousness of the scene thanks to her use of a color palette full of gorgeous greens and blues and a restrained approach to the subject matter made insightful by the absence of text. When the child captures a grasshopper, tearing off one of its legs in the process, the grasshopper’s scooped into a jar to spare it from the same end that befell the caterpillar. Inside the clear jar, the grasshopper’s world reveals itself in all its reliefs and dangers. Through all that happens, the child learns about the effects of their actions on the natural world, and it’s a lesson worth imparting here.
Marvelously astute.(Picture book. 4-8)