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Flora and the Peacocks

idle_flora and the peacocksOh, how I love Flora and the Flamingo, the first Flora book by Molly Idle, published in 2013. Those amazing flaps, like nothing we’d seen; the gracefulness of the illustrations, with infusions of humor; the lyricism of the story, without using any words. I was thrilled when it won a Caldecott Honor (and as we learned from Martha’s Horn Book Magazine article “Caldecott 2014: The Year in Pictures”, it’s the first book with flaps to receive Caldecott recognition!).

And then I liked Flora and the Penguin a lot, which came out in 2014. And I liked Flora and the Peacocks a lot, which is eligible for this year’s Caldecott race. Peacocks does something its predecessors did not by introducing a third character into the friendship dynamic with Flora. There are two birds for Flora to win over, if they can stop bickering with each other first. It’s a really neat and kid-friendly twist that keeps things fresh, now that the flaps’ magic is somewhat of a given. (And IMHO, some of the flaps in this book are less organic to the story than they seem to be buying time — but Roger doesn’t agree with me, and I don’t want to agree with myself, so let’s put that aside for now.) In any case, all is revealed (and forgiven) with the resplendent final foldout that cashes in, in a big way, on that peacock premise.

Peacocks doesn’t overtake Flamingo in my heart. But as we know, the Caldecott committee members take into consideration only the book in front of them, not the author’s previous work. And this book in front of me succeeds beautifully at presenting a wordless three-way friendship story, including the pitfalls and pleasures therein, with elegant visuals that aren’t afraid to get cheeky.

Meanwhile, who’s excited for Flora and the Chicks — a counting-themed board book out early next year?

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.



  1. Allison Grover Khoury says:

    I thought the first book, Flora and the Flamingo was OK, had mixed feelings about the Caldecott Honor. But I very much respect Molly Idle and her art and design genius. The book is beautiful and fun. But it reminded me so much of several other books out around that time , so it was a bit redundant. When the 2nd one came out, as lovely as it was, it felt like a publishing company just taking advantage of a medal honor to publish another book. The third one?Who isn’t charmed by peacocks? It’s color choice and design are beautiful, but I’m so hoping that some fresh artists pushing boundaries will catch the eye of the committee. Thanks for allowing honesty.

  2. Sam Juliano says:

    I don’t see it making a run for the winner’s circle in any capacity. To be sure it is quite lovely -few could fail to be captivated its charm and color scheme, but I think the honor for the pink lemonade original will be it. But the books are quite popular in the classes and Idle, like Ian Falconer, will continue to delight students with additions. There’s seems to be a new creative hitch with each new release.

    Excellent review.

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