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Review of Flora and the Flamingo

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.

From the July/August 2013 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Elissa Gershowitz About Elissa Gershowitz

Elissa Gershowitz is executive editor of The Horn Book, Inc. She holds an MA from the Center for the Study of Children's Literature at Simmons College and a BA from Oberlin College.

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