Thursday, January 12, 2006

Review: Learning to Fly

Penguins are the "it-animal" of recent children's literature. And the star of Learning to Fly, a new picture book by Sebastian Meschenmoser, is a credit to his flock. (Do penguins make up a flock? Anyone know?)

The penguin hero of Learning to Fly falls out of the sky one day when other birds tell him, "Penguins can't fly." He crashes to the ground and is rescued by a kindly young man who takes him home, feeds him, cleans him up, and gives him a place to sleep. Together the man and the penguin begin training for flight. They exercise, read about flight, and try just about anything to get the penguin back in the air.

Meschenmoser's illustrations are deceptively straightforward. Sketched in pencil with only minimal color added, the illustrations are warm and often laugh-out-loud funny. The penguin dressed as batman cracked my son up as did one picture of an especially inventive attempt at getting the penguin into the air. Learning to Fly earned three repeat requests from my son, a new record. (And I complied which is against my rule of no more than two reads of the same book in a twenty-four-hour period.)

Learning to Fly was published in 2005 as Fliegen lernen in Germany. Kane/Miller (a very cool publishing house specializing in foreign and translated literature for children) has published Learning to Fly as part of its 2006 Spring list.