Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle

Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle

Rating: 5 stars

Delightful.  Delight-filled!

Here's a feisty, silly bathing beauty, happy to mimic a regal, haughty flamingo while he dances regally, ignorant of his human shadow.  Using lift-the-flaps, Idle brilliantly shows the girl mock the flamingo and then--pull the flap down!--she looks away innocently when the flamingo looks back at her accusingly.  The reader shares the secret of the feisty little girl; the two know what the flamingo doesn't!
Flora copycats the flamingo...

Six pages in and the flamingo has the girl figured out.  One loud squawk leaves the girl tumbling, humbled from her little joke.  But just a few turns later and the flamingo forgives, forgets, and reaches for Flora.  And then...and then!...a lovely duet between the master leading his pupil through a complicated, beautiful dance.  The girl is ecstatic--the look of delight on HER face is so precious.

They dance beautifully until they cannonball into the water in one joyous, silly splash!

This book is so very worthy of the Caldecott honor it received just a few weeks ago.  And it reminds me of the great opportunities wordless picture books provide.  All three of my kids--Lorelei (6 1/2) who is reading advanced chapter books, Ben (5) who is reading solidly, and Kiefer (2 1/2) who is delighted (word of the post) to identify "his letter" K--like this book and all of them can get something out of it.  As a wordless picture book, it is accessible to all of them.
...and is found out in this adorable picture.

Here is a sampling of activities you can do with a wordless picture book:

  • Have the child tell the story--even Kiefer can look at a picture and describe what is going on, and then he sometimes pretends to read by adding imaginary stuff or adding tidbits from his day or another book.
  • Use Post-It notes (Ben's favorite thing right now) to write a story.  You can stick them right onto the pages!
  • Have your child tell you more about the character. Why is the girl dancing?  How does she feel when the flamingo pushes her away?
  • Look at the structure behind the book--Lorelei is ready to do this.  What happens in the beginning? What is the problem/conflict?  How is it resolved?  Words don't get in the way in wordless books...
  • Challenge your reader to write or draw or think up a sequel to the book.  What other animals could this girl dance with or, for breakdancing Ben, what animal could best breakdance with him if he was in a storybook?

Some other great wordless picture books (including my all-time favorite, Pancakes for Breakfast by Tomie dePaola, can be found on my blog here and even more here).

Hooray for Flora, the Flamingo, and Molly Idle!

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