September 2010

Fly away with the wind

By Jeanne Birdsall
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Siblings can be a pain, particularly younger ones. Ask any older child what they find irksome about their brother or sister and they will undoubtedly rattle off a litany of complaints.

Flora is no exception. Though the latest accident with spilled paints is clearly her younger brother Crispin’s fault, responsibility falls to Flora. Exasperated by the mess, and in spite of the day’s blustery weather, her mother sends Flora outside. Of course, she must take Crispin with her. Flora is not worried about the wind’s gusts. She has her “super-special heavy-duty red boots” to protect her. Flora taunts the wind and even offers up her brother, who is clad in ordinary boots. The wind accepts the challenge and suddenly Crispin is aloft.

The look of fear on Crispin’s face prompts her to action and quickly Flora kicks off her own sturdy red anchors and joins him in the sky. Grabbing his hand, Flora soon discovers that flying through the air is rather “comfortable.” Before long Flora and her brother are making new acquaintances, a dragonfly, a sparrow, a rainbow, even the moon. Each offers a new home for her brother, and a solution to her troubles, but suddenly Flora is not so sure. She repeatedly declares, “He’s my brother and I’m taking him home,” but ultimately, whether she receives safe passage home is up to the wind; Flora must answer a difficult question and decide her brother’s fate.

Known for her National Book Award winning tale, The Penderwicks, author Jeanne Birdsall expertly captures a sense of place in her inaugural picture book, Flora’s Very Windy Day. Calling on a classic theme of children’s literature, Birdsall personifies the wind and evokes its movement through alliterative phrasing: “swirled and swooped,” “whizzed and walloped.” Matt Phelan’s gentle watercolor and ink illustrations echo the sense of motion and capture the season with dazzling red and orange leaves drifting across the page.

Broadly appealing, Flora’s Very Windy Day, will engage the imagination of those who have ever wondered what it would be like to drift away with the clouds, or like Flora, have the wind offer to whisk away all your troubles. A perfect pairing of whimsy and realistic conflict, this book is sure to become a new favorite.

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Flora’s Very Windy Day

Flora’s Very Windy Day

By Jeanne Birdsall
ISBN 9780618986767

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