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Friday, May 16, 2014

Flight School, written and illustrated by Lita Judge. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, Simon & Schuster. 2014. $19.99 ages 3 and up

"How can this be true?
thought Penguin.
In my heart I live on
the wind.
But as he watched his
classmates fly high above,
he knew it was time to
go home.
Penguin was too
brokenhearted to even
wave good-bye."

Oh, how I love Penguin!

"I was hatched to fly," said Penguin.
"When do classes start?"

He powers up to 'Flight School' where 'we teach birds to fly' is the order of the day. Powers up? Yep, he's made his way from the south pole aboard a bright red fishing boat with an outboard motor, and he's here to do what he is meant to do!

The instructor and the other bird students are unsure; but, they don't want to rain on his parade. So, they all get to practicing for their first solo flight. When pronounced ready, each takes its turn. Then, it's Penguin's turn...

I think you know what happens. Full of sorrow at this failure, and totally discouraged, Penguin leaves. Before he can get too far, Flamingo offers an alternative. Will it work? Will Penguin take to the air as he so wishes? You don't want to miss what happens next?

Lita Judge uses warm watercolor and pencil illustrations to bring Penguin's story of dogged determination to her sure-to-be-delighted young readers. The images stretch across the pages, providing humorous details that will capture attention, and entertain. The shore birds are expressive, full of charm, and perfect foils for a visitor from much colder climes. Even the fish feel great concern for Penguin when his first attempt at flight fails.

The changing perspectives are lively and add a very special touch. The circular warm image of Penguin sailing toward sunset, while the rest of the birds settle into early evening slumber seems a satisfying end to a day of discovery.

Or is it?  You won't believe your eyes!


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