Cover image for The things with wings
The things with wings
Holch, Gregory.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Scholastic Press, [1998]

Physical Description:
227 pages ; 22 cm
Twelve-year-old Newton and his classmate Vanessa, who is obsessed with butterflies and flying, undergo significant changes as they try to discover why the emerald rainbow butterflies return to Angel Falls every spring.
Reading Level:
750 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 5.0 6.0 36937.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Juvenile Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



During spring vacation, Newton and Vanessa discover a secret butterfly garden -- where kids can turn into butterflies! This action-packed story wings readers into a magical world of daring rescues and astonishing revelations.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 4^-6. The new kid in school, Newton Bellnap, plans to spend a quiet spring break watching for the annual migration of emerald rainbow butterflies. After he spots one, he befriends his classmate Vanessa, an adventurous explorer and a self-proclaimed emerald rainbow expert. Their exploration of a mysterious walled garden leads to Vanessa's sampling the fruit from a strange tree. Newton is amazed when his friend turns into an enormous caterpillar, then into an emerald rainbow butterfly. The fantasy works very well until the last few chapters, when so much is spelled out that the magic and mystery break down. Still, the book has a refreshingly childlike outlook and combines an old-fashioned sort of storytelling with a modern sense of girls as adventurers. This first novel might make a good classroom read-aloud choice, teaching children quite painlessly about butterflies and metamorphosis while entertaining them with intriguing characters and an imaginative plot. --Carolyn Phelan

Publisher's Weekly Review

On his first time out as author, children's book editor Holch packs this allegorical tale with plenty of far-out flights of fancy. A typical underachiever, 11-year-old Newton Bellnap hates to read and fears change, which is a problem because his actor parents keep moving the family around. Facing a predictable spring vacation in yet another new town, Newton discovers that Angel Falls offers more mysteries than he can handle. Add to these his blossoming friendship with Vanessa, an iconoclastic classmate, and the mystifying annual migration of thousands of Emerald Rainbow butterflies, and Newton's break turns into an existential quest for the meaning of life. Holch counteracts Newton's somewhat annoying passivity with Vanessa's likable brashness, and keeps the pace going at a clip by adding layers of curiosities (a mysterious man in a black hat; an illness affecting all of Newton's classmates). Some readers may feel overwhelmed by the scattered threads and find the philosophy heavy-handed (famous quotations and cryptic messages break in throughout). And the miraculous changes in Newton (who becomes a reader) and Vanessa (who is reconciled to her depressed widower father) at the book's close are a bit pat. Nevertheless, this book will appeal to those who like their fantasy thick and deep. Ages 10-13. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 5-8ÄHolch's first novel is full of mystery and excitement. Newton Bellnap, 11, may be new to Angel Falls, but he knows to look for the Emerald Rainbow butterflies in the spring. Millions of these beautiful insects mysteriously appear, stay for one week, and then continue their long migration north. As Newton watches them arrive during his April vacation, other mysterious things begin to happen. He and classmate Vanessa Zephyr discover that her best friend has disappeared. A weird scientist follows them everywhere and warns them not to go into the woods. Meanwhile, Vanessa is obsessed with being able to fly. When the friends find an ancient tree that attracts the butterflies, she takes a bite of its fruit and makes a surprising metamorphosis of her own. Newton and Vanessa are realistic and believable heroes. While the novel is slow to start, it is full of twists, turns, and suspenseful subplots. Other story lines include the relationship between Vanessa and her father and the difficulties involved in facing changes. Readers will also learn about the stages of butterfly development and will be fascinated when the girl's dream of flying becomes a reality. With its brief chapters, this book would be a terrific read-aloud or a good choice for group discussion. Pair it with Lynne Reid Banks's Fairy Rebel (Doubleday, 1988) for hearty fantasy stories about winged creatures.ÄKimberlie Baker, Lucius Beebe Memorial Library, Wakefield, MA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

1. The Emerald Rainbowp. 1
2. The Girl in the Treep. 9
3. The Man in the Black Hatp. 17
4. If It Flies, Kill Itp. 22
5. A Town Full of Secretsp. 29
6. A Blizzard of Butterfliesp. 34
7. Into the Woodsp. 40
8. Where There's a Wall, There's a Wayp. 47
9. The Gardenp. 52
10. Under the Treep. 57
11. The Swingp. 68
12. Don't Go Upstairsp. 76
13. The Thingp. 82
14. What Do Caterpillars Eat?p. 91
15. I Never Met-a-Morphosis I Didn't Likep. 96
16. That Was Scrumptiousp. 107
17. Please Step Outside While I Changep. 112
18. Wingsp. 117
19. Adventure Callingp. 122
20. Who Are Those Guys?p. 127
21. What Vanessa Foundp. 133
22. To the Rescuep. 141
23. Several Hours Laterp. 151
24. The Chasep. 159
25. Thank You, Edgar Allan Poep. 163
26. The Man in the Hat Comes Backp. 168
27. Groundedp. 174
28. What Have You Ever Done?p. 181
29. Up in the Airp. 185
30. Don't Look Downp. 189
31. I See Youp. 195
32. Filling in the Detailsp. 199
33. It's Happening Againp. 208
34. An Angel Fallsp. 213
35. Good-byep. 217
Epilogue: The Butterfly Dreamp. 221