Thursday, January 7, 2010

Book Review: Fly Away Peter by Frank Dickens, ill by Ralph Steadman

This classic picture book from my childhood has just been reissued by a British press, Pavilion Children's. The bright, wild, scribbly illustrations are fantastic. They resemble children's artwork in a way that ought to be reassuring and familiar, but the thought behind the watercolors should be plainly obvious to adults. I particularly love the insane lollipop trees.

The storyline isn't shockingly new. Jeffrey, a young giraffe with a short neck, befriends Peter, a bird who can't fly. In the midst of a game of hide-and-seek, Jeffrey's neck gets stuck in a rabbit hole. Lo and behold, this leads to the two friends overcoming their shortcomings. They stay friends, but ban the playing of hide-and-seek in the future. The storytelling is gentle, straightforward, and funny. The menagerie of animals in the forest is diverse and their cooperation is a lovely additional lesson, along with the lesson about differences and friendship. It has a lot of words, but they're fairly simple words. This is a great book for a middle-range picture book reader, 4-6.

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