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Friday, February 11, 2011

Flora's Very Windy Day, written by Jeanne Birdsall and illustrated by Matt Phelan. Clarion, Thomas Allen. 2010. $19.95 ages 5 and up

"Now the wind tripled
its strength. It swirled and
swooped, and whizzed and
walloped, and then -oh, my!-
Crispin was being lifted off
the ground."

Is it ever easy to have a little brother? I think it gets easier as we get older - it certainly did for me. I cannot speak for Jack about having an older sister. Flora has yet to be convinced that Crispin is worth it. He spills her paints and somehow it is her fault for leaving them where he can get his hands on them! When kids are proving more trouble than they are worth, the oft-used solution is to ship them outside to play. Aha, Flora's mother has employed that tactic with good results for herself...peace and quiet.

It's pretty windy and Flora is worried about Crispin's ability to stay grounded. She has boots that will keep her safe. Flora is not afraid! She teases and even suggests that Crispin is more vulnerable. So, the wind takes him. Flora kicks off her boots and follows. Others are willing to help her rid herself of his little nuisance self. The dragonfly needs a wing polisher. A sparrow needs respite from egg sitting. A rainbow needs a guard for the pot of gold. Their offers are tempting, but each is met with a defiant 'NO' and an assertion that Flora is taking Crispin home. Even the man in the moon has a good reason for taking Crispin off her hands. Flora ponders his loneliness:

"The man in the moon had a kind face, and he did look awfully lonely. But there were no chocolate chip cookies on the moon, and Crispin was so fond of chocolate chip cookies."  

I have such admiration for Matt Phelan's charming and whimsical wind-blown illustrations. Flora's expression of pure delight as she stands facing the wind while she lets her 'super-special heavy-duty red boots' hold her to the ground, Crispin's wonder-filled face as he is tossed and turned into the leaf-strewn sky and the gentle brushing of rainbow shreds from his coat when they arrive home safely all give this story of sibling strife a gentle and heartwarming touch. The final two spots of brother and sister sharing much more than chocolate chip cookies leave readers feel all is right in this world.

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