David Michaelson (aka Nubby Grumpins) once again delights us with rascally tales taken from his childhood. Butterfly Dust and Other Animal Adventures offers a range of stories, vignettes, sayings, and poetry about animals and children. All are done in age appropriate language and simply styling. Some stories, such as “Ollie the Orca,” are written from the viewpoint of the animal. Although it seems to leave the reader hanging, but Ollie turns out to be a page turner, that it, it’s concluded in the book. An interesting way to keep the reader interested.
Most of the stories in the book are about animals the Tuttle family—in reality the Michaelson family of long ago—owned or knew. Grumpy is at his story telling best here. His irrepressible sense of mischief brims over in “Budgie Fights Back” and “Spinning Poor Spooky.” For those who read Michaelson’s Rapscallion Summer, there’s no denying Timmy Tuttle is Michaelson at his rascally best. Poor bird, to have mashed potatoes flung at him. Clever bird, to fight back with a well-aimed green pea at Timmy Tuttle’s head! And who but a rapscallion and his sister would spin a hapless cat on a waxed floor for the pleasure of watching it walk away like a drunken sailor?
Other tales are glad with a sad ending, such as the chronicles of Feisty, the cat, and Tippy, the dog. The latter gave his life to save the Tuttle children from a rattlesnake. The former met a cruel and untimely end at the hands of a neighbor’s child. Yet the boy’s punishment, helping out at the local animal shelter, so suited his crime, that he not only regretted what he did, but ultimately led to his becoming a veterinarian devoted to healing animals, not harming them.
The book’s many drawings are suitable for the under twelve set, some photos, some line drawings. Done in black and white, they represent the respective animals, but the resolution of the pictures occasionally is fuzzy. The three wise camping sayings lack pictures but not wit. My favorite was number two, “No matter where you stand near a campfire the smoke will always find you.” True, very true.
Entries like these make Butterfly Dust a treat not only for children but also for adults who remember what it was like to be a child. Better still, they can be read to children by adults, alternately with a smile of nostalgic longing—or rascally identification.
Reviewed by: Barbara Peacock (2013)
BUTTERFLY DUST is a fanciful collection of animal adventures drawn from actual incidents as well as the author's imagination. This book is an entertaining look at our animal friends, sometimes from their point of view, and how we humans often interact with them.