Fly! (Mark Teague)

Hello, friends! Our book today is the delightful Fly! by Mark Teague, a wordless tale of a baby bird learning to leave the nest.

In a cozy nest perched in a tree, a baby robin grows from a pink, featherless hatchling to a robust fledgling as its father dutifully feeds it worms. When the time comes for the little birdy to spread its wings, the father encourages his little one to try hopping out onto the tree’s branch. Frustrated, the chick does so… only to tumble to the ground below. Winging down to his child, the father notes that the little bird must fly up on their own, as he cannot carry them. And so begins a hilarious negotiation between parent and child of the merits of learning this new (and maybe, possibly, a little bit daunting) skill.

Wonderful! I have to admit, I’m not always the biggest fan of wordless picture books, as they can often feel like less of a shared experience with JJ (mostly due to my own lack of narrative capabilities). Yet this one was filled with such a tight narrative, so much good humor, and so many clever tweaks to the genre that is was a blast to make up our own dialogue. Much of this is due to Teague’s brilliant use of “speech bubbles” that do not display text, but instead smaller pictures that imagine what the characters might be saying. These, combined with the brilliantly-illustrated expressions, convey a clear tone and motivation for each character, providing a structure for their imagined dialogue. Especially funny are the chick’s proposed alternate modes of transportation, such as a sports car, a plane, and a hot air balloon, to name a few. There’s also something nice about the depiction of a single-parent relationship of father and child, a much rarer occurrence in picture books (though it is quite subtle, and those unfamiliar with the gendered markings of robins might be inclined to see the adult bird as a mother). The length is great, and JJ had lots of giggles for the robins’ antics. A fun read for any age, and we recommend it – Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

Vacation For Dexter! (Lindsay Ward)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Vacation For Dexter! by Lindsay Ward, third in the delightful Dexter T. Rexter series.

Dexter (a high-energy and big-personality orange dinosaur toy) is back with his boy, Jack, for another adventure. This time, the two are going with Jack’s family on vacation! Loaded up in the car, Dexter is excited about all his vacation gear and the fun he and Jack will have; that is, until the car stops in front of the airport. Hang on – T-Rex arms are far too small to fly! Once on the plane, Dexter panics about the prospect of flying in his usual way: full-on meltdown of anxiety and nervous chatter. But when he looks up, he notices that Jack is looking pretty fearful too… which is all it takes for Dex to conquer his fears.

Encouraging and fun. As always, Dexter’s histrionics in the face of his fears are the comedic centerpiece, and they are still especially fun to read aloud in a panicked voice. Especially sweet here is the extended interaction between Jack and Dexter, and how Dex finds the strength to check his own fears in order to help deal with Jack’s. There’s also a nice subtext of getting over one’s anxieties about flying, nicely timed with spring and summer coming up. Ward’s illustrations, a mixture of paint, paper textures, and digital art is accessible and bright, and Dexter’s hilarious expressions and body language are a joy. The length was fine, and JJ loved it. Fun, silly, full of heart, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by a representative of the author in exchange for an honest review.)

Flight School (Lita Judge)

Hello, friends! Today’s book is the adorable Flight School by Lita Judge, a wonderful story about a plucky little penguin with a dream: to fly.

When Flight School begins its new semester, the teachers find themselves with a rather unorthodox student: a penguin! They gently inform the little chick that while they would love to teach him, penguins aren’t meant to fly. The little penguin is insistent, however, that he has the soul of an eagle, and that he can and will soar among the clouds. He works hard, studying along with his classmates, despite not being able to keep up with them physically. At last, all the Flight School students are cleared for flight… except for penguin. Dejected, he accepts his limitations and begins to leave – until Flamingo suddenly has an idea that might help the determined little penguin make his dreams a reality.

LOVED this one. It’s a touchingly sweet story about how physical attributes should never deter you from your dreams, and serves as a powerful metaphor for differently-abled people not letting their bodies determine their fate. It also encourages others not to dismiss a person’s dreams based on physicality: Penguin’s teachers are the ones who build him a set of wings from their own feathers, then help him to stay up in the air. It’s a lovely message that encourages us to believe in the dreams of others and help them where we can. The illustrations are absolutely darling, and the length is great. JJ and I both loved this story about a community coming together to make a dream come true, and it’s definitely Baby Bookworm approved.