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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Flight of the Dodo, written and illustrated by Peter Brown. Little Brown, Hachette. 2005. $8.99 ages 5 and up

"But Penguin couldn't fly.
He was just a flightless bird.
He was a Waddler.
Penguin had always dreamed
of flying, and it didn't seem fair
to him that the Flappers got to
have all the fun. So he rounded
up his friends to discuss the future
of the Waddlers."

It just takes one! That, it seems, is a recurring theme this week.

Penguin starts his day with high hopes, and then it happens! A goose flying overhead inadvertently poops right where Penguin is standing. Disgusted and disgruntled, Penguin decides it is time for action. He calls all of his waddling friends together and suggests that they change the method by which they make their way in the world. After all, they have never had a bird's-eye view of anything, but the ground.

After much planning, they manage to construct a flying machine that will change all that. They name it the Dodo, and they are aloft! Excitement leads to ultimate dives, cloud tasting, low level fishing and target practice, having learned from that initial encounter with the goose. Everything is going so well, the balloonists decide to share their news...with an approaching flock of geese. Penguin navigates them straight into a threatening thunder storm, and they fear the worst. He finds the light at the end of the tunnel when he spots the geese 'sitting safely on the ground'.

How will he get their attention? Aha, target practice may finally have value. Sure enough, he is able to aim his poop at a select spot, thus ruffling no feathers. The geese, curious by nature, find the source and come to the rescue. There is a lesson to be learned from this first flight. The Waddlers have much to learn from the geese about flight and the geese could use a few lessons in etiquette from Penguin and his friends. Could another flight be on the horizon?

You get the humor, but you don't REALLY get it until you have a chance to see Peter Brown's acrylic and pencil illustrations depicting the mile-high adventures of this group of wary waddlers. His mood enhancing palette is perfect for the adventure that awaits the determined crew of the Dodo. The crystal blue of the skies quickly gives way to the murky dark storm clouds. It's laugh out loud funny as we, too, get a bird's eye view of ostrich, stricken and flat on the floor of the balloon as Penguin dipsy-doodles their way above and below the flock of geese. And be sure to check the view of the classroom as one goose really doesn't get what is being taught!

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