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Uplifting Picture Books That Don't Preach
Learning to Fly
Learning to Fly
by Sebastian Meschenmoser
Kane/Miller Book Publishers,(2006)
Last winter, I found a penguin.
He told me he'd been flying.
But...penguins can't fly.
He knew that. But penguins are birds, and birds fly, so...
...he gave it a try. And, he flew.
Then he met some other birds.
They said, "Penguins can't fly."
And he thought, "They're right."
That's when he crashed.
--Learning to Fly, Sebastian Meschenmoser, p. 1-10.
The narrator, a bearded man, finds a penguin who tells him he could fly—even though penguins can't fly—until he met some other birds who told him he couldn't. The penguin believed them, and stopped being able to fly.
The man takes the penguin home, and together they go through laugh-out-loud methods of trying to get the penguin flying again, from flying contraptions to shooting the penguin out of bow to fastening the penguin to a kite, none succeeding. Finally, a flock of penguins flies by, and the penguin realizes he really can fly.
This delightful book is translated from German. The text is beautifully written and spare, with a wry, delicious, deadpan humor. It has just the right amount of text, and well-chosen words.
The beautifully realistic grey-and-white pencil drawings make the story come to life. The drawings are deceptively simple. In each drawing, something small is given some color, highlighting its importance—the stripes on the man's scarf, the pillow the penguin lands on, the button on the washer.... The detailed, humourous drawings evoke emotion and energy, some contained within rectangles within a page, some taking up the entire page or spanning two pages. Meschenmoser also slips in visual references to comics (Superman and Batmn), arists (Leonardo Da Vinci), and a love of books, which some readers may enjoy.
This is a fantastic, hope-filled book for both children and adults. It gives the reader important messages such as 'believe in yourself, and you can do anything,' and 'listen to yourself, you know what you can do,' in a humourous and entertaining way. A talented illustrator and writer to watch out for. Highly recommended.
-Added November 2006
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