The Band

Flying Eye. (Tales from the Hidden Valley: Bk. 3). May 2019. 48p. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781911171676.
Gr 1-3–Porta’s lengthy, stylized picture book is the third installment in the series, each of which is dedicated to a particular season. This one focuses on spring, as a strange-looking bird named Ticky returns to his nest at the top of the Dead Tree. Hidden far away between tall mountains, the secret valley emerges, though one could pass it a hundred times and still not see it unless one knew just where to look. Porta sets the stage for his tale by inviting readers to enter this place where his mythical world of strange creatures (the band) appear. The rather awkward-looking blue bird carrying a red guitar is Ticky, followed by others less easily identifiable. The bushy tails, pointy ears, and snouts suggest a few foxlike creatures, but Porta seems to allude to the fact that the friends are a motley bunch of mythical misfits. The most unusual and unexpected of that group is the appearance of pink Onion-head, who drifts past on a log until Ticky hitches a ride, and the pair meets a grisly ogre in search of a ready meal. Many youngsters may find this somewhat convoluted tale a bit too detailed to follow, while others may relish the surprise elements and unconventional cast of characters that appear in rapid succession. This third addition is worth having if the first two are already part of one’s library collection.
VERDICT Children who relish fantasy are more likely to appreciate this fanciful, whimsical tale, while others may find it too labyrinthine.

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