One moment it swims and breathes water. The next it flies and breathes air. A fantasy? No, a true story of a dragonfly. Eliza and the Dragonfly by Susie Caldwell Rinehart and illustrated by Anisa Claire Hovemann is a picture book story in which a dragonfly is a main character.
In the story, Eliza, a young girl, discovers a dragonfly nymph at a nearby pond. At first she thinks it’s “gross.” Then the magic and suspense of watching it hatch into a beautiful creature changes her mind. She even names it Horace. Horace is a Common Green Darner, a species that is widespread across North America. In the process, Eliza learns something about growing up. Readers will never look at a dragonfly the same way again. In fact, young readers may run outside to find a dragonfly.
Author Susie Caldwell Rinehart says, “I wanted to write a story about that moment of discovery between a child and a live creature, without sacrificing realism.” For Susie, the project is “mostly autobiographical.” It is her first book.
The was also the first book for illustrator Anisa Claire Hovemann. Anisa took a semester off from her senior year at the Maryland Institute College of Art, in Baltimore, Maryland, to complete the project. Composed of mixed media but primarily watercolor, she says that she “tried to bring dragonfly essence to the whole project – a light, free, whimsical quality, fresh, playful, yet elegant. I had a lot of fun developing each of the characters.” Anisa spent hours at “Dragonfly Pond” near her home in Nevada City , California in preparation for the project.