Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Learning to Fly

Waiting for Winter is one of my absolute favorite books. It comes as no surprise that Learning to Fly is just as terrific. Apparently Sebastian Meschenmoser has a policy of only creating brilliant, amazing things. That seems like a pretty good policy to have in place. 

More times that I can possibly count, a good story will be accompanied by subpar illustrations or a book with stunning illustrations will be paired with insipid writing. The latter is always worse because your expectations have been built up by the cover art. In any case, it's always a thrill to find an author who is equally adept at both. Sebastian Meschenmoser is both of those things, and funny to boot. Unfortunately, he is also German, and these are the only two books of his, that I know of, available in English. 

This is so told in such a straightforward manner, but it's also so wonderfully tongue in cheek. It starts off "Last winter, I found a penguin. He told me he'd been flying." And the penguin goes on to tell him that he thought he would just give flying a try, and it worked out okay. Until he ran into some other flying birds and they confirmed that penguins can't fly. Then he fell. I guess those other birds got in his head. Poor guy.  

Sebastian (because the drawn version looks an awful lot like the author; I think this might be an autobiographical tale) takes this poor, dejected penguin home. They eat dinner, get some sleep and run a few tests in the morning. The tests conclude that those birds were right: penguins cannot fly. But what if ....

Determined, the pair set up a training program, study books about flying, and put together some interesting (and downright hilarious) ideas on how to get the penguin flying again. They practice and try every hair-brained idea they come up with: penguin arrow, penguin rocket, penguin kite, penguin catapult. No dice. Until one day, a penguin colony flies overhead. And the penguin effortlessly joins them.    

You can do anything you believe you are capable of, and don't let any naysayers tell you any different. Believe in yourself and you can fly with the penguins! I wish all life lessons were delivered like this, as funny ideas with fabulous illustrations. This is simply a brilliant book.

Review copy provided by Kane Miller.  

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