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Sunday, July 24, 2011

If I Never Endeavor, written and illustrated by Holly Meade. Candlewick Press, Random House. 2011. $18.00 ages 3 and up

"If in all of forever,
I never endeavor
to fly, I won't know if I can.

I won't know if I can't."

We all find ourselves teetering on the edge of a warm and comfy nest (metaphorically, of course) at many times in our lives. The decision to go or stay is a hard one for many of us. Change brings discomfort and apprehension. Holly Meade offers reassurance that we have the choice. We will, or we won't. We can, or we don't.

Her soft and engaging watercolor backgrounds offer bright and sunny blue skies, while the warmth of the greens and browns in the collage overlays sparkle with diffused light. As the bird contemplates the many advantages and disadvantages of taking the risk and trying its wings, the air is filled with the brilliance and movement of other birds enjoying their freedom. It's not easy to take that leap of faith.

The author grabs our attention before we even open her book, with the word endeavor. How often does it come up in conversation these days? It is a signal that the language chosen to tell her tale is elegant, diverse and often, unusual. I love that about this book. The writing is poetic and a pleasure to read out loud, a feast for our writing lives. Children will be encouraged to take some risks with language when they are writing; while also being guided toward accepting the challenges that life offers.

Of that message, Holly Meade says: “The fledgling perched on the edge of his nest preparing for possible flight is a situation I can feel in the pit of my stomach: possible glory, possible failure. We all find ourselves there, and we make a decision. This book is about that choice, the internal debate that accompanies it, and one possible result.”

My dear friend Angela will especially appreciate one of my favorite pages:

"On the one wing,
I could try
and find
that I flap
and I flail,

flounder and
look foolish
and fail.

On the other wing...."

This is a perfect book to be shared with the very young and with others along the way; are we not all faced with making decisions every day of our lives? All we can do is take flight and see what happens!

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