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Horn Book(Younger, Intermediate)
A brief, incisive author's note precedes the body of this lively poetic introduction to nine real flies, those insects that belong to the order Diptera, and four insects popularly called flies (such as fireflies) that actually belong to other orders. The selection of subjects ranges from the familiar housefly and horse fly to the less well-known Mydas fly and soldier fly. Some choices-the latrine fly and the coffin fly, for example-rate high on the "yuck" index and are certain to provoke appropriate reactions. The brilliantly colored, painstakingly executed illustrations are imaginative, somewhat surreal, interpretations that embody salient characteristics suggested in the accompanying verse and in the scientific information presented on succeeding pages. Take, for example, the fruit fly: its proportions are enlarged but its body is an assemblage of its favorite viands; Michelson's verse comments on its habits: "I just ate a fruit fly / that was swimming in my cup. / I took a drink / and now I think / I'm going to throw up." A more objective and realistic view of the fruit fly is presented in line drawings and text on the two succeeding pages. The book is far from stodgy, though. First of all, there are those attention-getting magnificent illustrations; then there is that conver-sational text with just the kind of detail to entice readers; and finally there are the poems-jaunty, rhythmic rhymes-which lie lightly on the tongue and ear. m.m.b.