by Molly Idle
Chronicle Books 2013
978-1-4521-1006-6 CALDECOTT HONOR BOOK
Age 4 to 8 32 pages
“Friendship is a beautiful dance. In this innovative wordless book, a tentative partnership blooms into an unlikely friendship between a girl named Flora and a graceful flamingo. With a twist, a turn, and even a flop, these unlikely friends learn at last how to dance together in perfect harmony. Artist Molly Idle has created a story full of humor and heart, with emotions that leap off the page, and memorable characters who are worthy of countless standing ovations.”
A flamingo, peacefully standing one-legged in the water, turns its head to look behind it and eyes one little girl, named Flora, standing one-legged in the water, imitating the flamingo, who then turns her head to look behind her.
Do you remember repeating everything your older sibling said or mimicking every movement, just because you could? Flora mimics the flamingo, but not to get the flamingo’s goat. The little girl, in her pink one-piece swimsuit and pink flowered swim cap, takes on the flamingo’s graceful movements and the two begin a beautiful duet.
Words would undeniably be a distraction in the story of Flora and the Flamingo. Movement flows from a variety of flip pages attached atop Flora or the flamingo on several of the pages. For example, Flora imitates the flamingo’s stance: standing on one leg, head tucked under a wing. Flip down the flaps and the stances change. Both dancers remain on one leg, but now each twists her head toward the other, possibly checking to ensure the other is still there.
The flamingo is Flora’s mirror, or maybe Flora is the flamingo’s mirror. Each bend, each stretch, each turn, and each look magically appear on both characters at the same time. Flora and the Flamingo will make you giggle and grin. Young girls will love the mystical dance between these two unlikeliest of friends. Before a friendship can be established, the flamingo LETS Flora have it! The shock of flamingo’s sharp bleat flips Flora up and over, landing her on her rear, unhappy. Flora turns her back, refusing to play any longer, but the flamingo finds this worse than being shadowed. It offers Flora a wing, which Flora thinks about before allowing flamingo to help her to her feet. (Are these two friends or siblings?)
At the moment of friendship, when Flora and the flamingo become dancing partners instead of solo acts, the spread takes on a drastic change. The two begin together on one page. They had begun their awkward dance with the flamingo firmly staying on the left page and Flora on the opposing right page of the spread. Now both are on the right page, figuratively and physically. Their movements become wider, and joyous. The two fly across the spread, smiling as they float, as if on ice. Then there is a big finale, as all great ballets should have. The finale is a wonderful dance only Flora and her flamingo can perform, together in the same spotlight, four pages in length. BRAVO!
Girls will love this graceful dance between friends, especially those little girls starting their first ballet lessons, wearing their pink tutus, and pink leotards, and some with pink ballet shoes, while others still will have pink ribbons in their hair. Flora is at her first class and flamingo is the instructor. This makes a wonderful baby-shower gift, when the parents-to-be know they have a girl on the way. Flora and the Flamingo is a beautiful book, with brilliant illustrations that float across the pages. It is no surprise Flora and the Flamingo became a Caldecott Honor Book. The medal winner must have been an amazingly illustrated picture book to beat out these two graceful dancers.
FLORA AND THE FLAMINGO. Story and Illustrations copyright © 2013 by Molly Idle. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Chronicle Books, San Francisco, CA.
Learn more about Flora and the Flamingo HERE.
Also by Molly Idle
FLORA AND THE PENGUIN 2014