Flora and the Flamingo
by Molly Idle; illus. by the author
Preschool, Primary Chronicle 40 pp.
3/13 978-1-4521-1006-6 $16.99
A little girl, a pink flamingo, some decorative cherry blossoms, and singular lift-the-flaps contribute to a unique wordless picture book. On the title-page spread, a flamingo gracefully touches down en pointe. The next spread shows the bird perched on one leg, in classic flamingo pose, with another someone poised to enter stage left — all you can see is a flipper. Turn the page and a girl in a pink bathing suit, swimming flippers, and a cheery yellow bathing cap has sidled up behind the flamingo and is mimicking its stance. Each character appears on her own flap which, when flipped down, advances the scene: the bird is now shooting an irritated glance at the girl while she sports an oh-so-innocent, “Who, me?” look. This imitation goes on for a few spreads (including another pair of well-placed flaps) until the flamingo finally relents and begins to teach the girl how to dance, and soon the two are plié-ing and jeté-ing their hearts out in a graceful pas de deux, culminating in a euphoric double-page foldout. Author-illustrator Idle’s work as a DreamWorks animator is apparent throughout. The book is cinematic, comedic, and balletic, with remarkable dynamic pacing facilitated by those ingenious flaps. Spare illustrations in a limited palette, mostly tutu-pinks with pops of yellow on pristine white pages, allow the characters’ physical and emotional chemistry — and the book’s physical comedy — to take center stage.