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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Wondrous Willow is a children’s animal fable written by Christine Horner and illustrated by Joey McGrellis. Willow is a Swallowtail butterfly, but she’s also a very special butterfly, a rare and rarely seen Old World Swallowtail. It had been many years since the last Old World Swallowtail had been seen in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. Willow has no way to ask her mother or father about her unexpected appearance in the National Park where she was born as they had both recycled back to Creation. Butterflies do not have a long time to live before they are called back, and so they must live each day fully. So it is with Willow who is special, not just because she is so rare, but because of who she is. Willow has a friend named Skipper, who is a baby skunk. Skipper is shy and a bit self-conscious about his malodorous condition, and his other friend, Percy, a hedgehog, is sometimes unkind and teases him about it. Percy isn’t too sure he likes Skipper making friends with Willow, and his efforts to interfere and make trouble keep everyone alert and watching. Willow wonders what special thing she’ll be called upon to do, and she’ll be ready when she finds out.
Christine Horner’s children’s animal tale, Wondrous Willow, is a poignant and moving nature fable set in the Rocky Mountains. The author weaves the compendium of the lifeforms native to this region within her story, making it a natural history as well as being Willow’s life story. Joey McGrellis’ illustrations fit the mood and magic of the tale perfectly. I especially liked his rendering of little Skipper, but found myself looking forward to each panel in the book. They’re clever, brightly colored and filled with animation and life. Horner’s debut story has action and adventure as well as nature lore as the animals have to contend with the ramifications of events created by people, but the story really shines in the bucolic meadows by the river where Willow and her friends live. Wondrous Willow is highly recommended.