STARRED REVIEW
April 09, 2018

A little book provides big inspiration

By Katherine Applegate, illustrated by Jennifer Black Reinhardt

Author Katherine Applegate is perhaps best known as the author of the acclaimed Newbery Medal winner, The One and Only Ivan. In her latest book, she teams up with talented illustrator Jennifer Black Reinhardt to create a celebration of childhood bursting with humor, warmth and love.

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Author Katherine Applegate is perhaps best known as the author of the acclaimed Newbery Medal winner, The One and Only Ivan. In her latest book, she teams up with talented illustrator Jennifer Black Reinhardt to create a celebration of childhood bursting with humor, warmth and love.

The spare text pairs well with Reinhardt’s delightful ink and watercolor illustrations. The story begins with just three words: “Before the cake,” accompanied by the illustration of a rather frazzled-looking mom baking for her 1-year old.

While the refrain “before” appears throughout the story, Reinhardt’s illustrations depict different characters and families, enabling readers to embrace a diversity of children, experiences and milestones. Whether it’s attempting to knit, roller skate, bake or make art, children see that “Each recipe we undertake can rise or fall, can burn or bake.” In this way, like recent popular picture books such as Cynthia Rylant’s Life, or Matt de Peña’s Love, Sometimes You Fly aims to inspire, encourage and illuminate through stunning art and a simple yet profound text.

At the end, Applegate’s spare, rhyming narrative returns to birthday cakes as a marker of milestones, but with an emphasis not on superficial accomplishments, but of the wonder and joy of life-long learning: “What matters most is what you take from all you learn . . . before the cake.” While young readers will be drawn in by the vibrant, often humorous illustrations, Sometimes You Fly will also make a thoughtful gift for expectant parents, graduates and anyone who seeks to spread their wings in a new adventure.

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Sometimes You Fly

Sometimes You Fly

By Katherine Applegate, illustrated by Jennifer Black Reinhardt
Clarion
ISBN 9780547633909

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