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Thursday, June 2, 2016

Flora and the Peacocks, written and illustrated by Molly Idle. Chronicle, Raicoast. 2016. $24.99 ages 3 and up

One girl.

Two peacocks.

A dance with one.

One left out.

Can three become
friends and dance

I assume that you have met Flora in two previous books. She has danced with a flamingo, and then a penguin. One was a dance of friendship, the other one that shows friends can like two very different things. This time, there are two peacocks. If you have experience with friendship and the number three, you will know that someone always seems to be on the receiving end of 'left out'!

Flora shows a bit of anxiety as she shares this new stage with the two peacocks. Turn the next flaps down, as we did with Flora's, and we meet the daunting duo. Flora makes a bow of introduction. The peacocks look on. Flora bows more deeply. The penguins deign to show interest in the young dancer. Well, one does! The other remains on its side of the spread, back turned ... while Flora attempts a pas de deux.

Flora is a kind and gentle soul, unhappy with leaving one penguin out. As she attempts to make things right with one, the other is annoyed. So it goes. Pulled from one side of the stage to the other and using her fan as the instrument for a tug-of-war, the pull is too strong and the fan breaks. Flora walks away, leaving the proud and perplexed peacocks to make amends. They do so with undeniable flair!

Wordless yet telling, the beautifully designed illustrations and carefully conveyed emotions of Ms. Idle's elegant art invite the audience to play a critical role in determining each character's actions. They are left with a brilliant and joyous conclusion.

Once again, I applaud Ms. Idle for her glorious story! Her use of lively color, precise line and an abundance of white space makes for a dramatic tale told brilliantly. Chronicle Books wins abundant praise for the design elements that include flaps and a gorgeous and gargantuan gatefold to end this look at what happens when three players try to make a go of it.

In an interview with Julie Danielson over at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast, Molly Idle had this to say about Chronicle Books:

"I love the folks at Chronicle. They are dedicated to making wonderful, beautiful, different books. And to do that, they pay attention to the smallest details. I’m a believer that the smallest details often make the biggest differences. I’ve been so fortunate to work with art directors, editors, and designers that believe that too. We share a love of simple, elegant design. We also share a love of ego-less collaboration. Whoever has the best idea, it doesn’t matter who thinks of it — that should be the path taken. So there aren’t really rigidly defined boundaries in how we divvy up design. My art director will make editorial notes; I’ll design a different way to engineer a gatefold or flap; my editor will make color palette suggestions. There’s a lot of overlap. There’s a lot of trust. I like that."

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