Hello, friends! Our book today is Outside Amelia’s Window, written by Caroline Nastro and illustrated by Anca Sandu Budisan, a quiet yet stirring story about having the courage to leave one’s nest.
When the little boy in the blue cap and the little girl with pigtails move in next door to Amelia, her mother suggests that she try to play outside with them. Yet Amelia doesn’t feel that she can play the way she did before, “not anymore” (while the text never states it outright, illustrations and context show that Amelia is transitioning to the use of a wheelchair for an undefined ailment). While watching the outside world from her window one day, a bird steals her yellow ribbon and uses it to build a nest, fascinating Amelia. She does some research and finds that the mother bird and her chicks – whom she names Penelope and Osiris – are migratory redstarts, who will fly tens of thousands of miles once they are mature. Inspired by Penelope and Osiris’ courage and growth, Amelia decides that perhaps she can make a journey of her own; one that is much shorter, yet requires no less fortitude.
Lovely. Times of transition are always tough for kids, and this one subtly weaves in more than a few into its allegory on learning to fly. Notable is the choice to make Amelia’s disability an element of her journey but not the main obstacle; from the jump, the audience understands that it is not that Amelia CAN’T go outside, it’s that she isn’t READY as she is transitioning to the use of her wheelchair. The narrative also never suggests that her unreadiness is a negative – like the redstart chicks, she will leave the nest when the time is right for her. It’s a nuanced and delicate approach that assures as it encourages, and works wonderfully, especially alongside the intricate and atmospheric artwork. The length is great for a storytime, and JJ and I both liked it. A heartwarming and heartening tale, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!
(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by a representative of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)