Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle (2013)

The last of the Caldecotts this year, an Honor Book.  Even though this isn't my favorite out of the bunch (I think Mr. Wuffles nudges out Journey just barely), I still liked this one far better than the actual winner.  Interestingly, the three honors were all wordless, which I found interesting.  As I've written here before, wordless picture books aren't necessarily my favorite kinds of picture books.  In this case though, all three were quite strong.

The color scheme - predominantly Mamie Eisenhower pink - and the cover title font gave the book a real retro feel, like it was a one of the Parents Magazine Press books that I've also written about before.  But the illustrations, although harking back, still have a very modern feel to them. It's a whimsical little book, and while it's not going to be one of my favorite books ever (it didn't make me cry, for example), it still is a strong book.

Flora and the FlamingoFlora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Mamie Eisenhower pink color scheme and the title font give this book an almost retro-flair, but the modern illustrations definitely counter that, but not in a jarring way.  There is a anti-bullying message that flies out of this, but the real take away is just the free feeling of joy that comes from dancing (to the tune of your own drummer).  What's nice about having no words is that we can insert ourselves very neatly into the story:  we're all flamingos, and we're all slightly chubby little girls in bathing caps, at one point or another in our lives.

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The (few) complaints on Goodreads have been about the book having no story, mostly due to the book having no words.  And while I don't agree with that sentiment (one person complained essentially that books for children were to teach reading, and without words, what was the point, which is incredibly ignorant and close minded and just plain stupid to me), I do think that the story does suffer somewhat from lack of plot.  It does sort of sit between somewhere between art and story, heavily on the art side.  That made me re-think calling it a strong book; it's strong artwork, but not necessarily a strong book.

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