Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Flora and the Flamingo - Picture Book Gush!

This is not entirely a book review (in some form and fashion it really is). This is more of a book gush. I don't know if I can put into words or complete sentences on how much LOVE this book. I have seen so many different types of picture picture over my lifetime as a reader and as a Children's Librarian. Generally, adjectives I've used in the past to describe the books include "cute," "adorable", "pleasant," "lovely," "funny," "icky," "gross" "ugly," (those last three are describing book illustrations are not my cup of tea). I cannot remember a time of when I used the word "beautiful" ... until now. Also, I am not only referring to the illustrations. I am referring to the entire book itself. Cover art. End pages. Illustrations. Book design. Flora and the Flamingo is a beautiful book. Hands down. I don't care what other people may say.

Another way I can describe this book is that it's like finding a friend and never wanting to let it go. I am constantly looking at this book, I had it on display during a My Favorite Stories storytime, I have a poster in my storytime room, and I am getting to the point that I will have buy this book so that it can grace my home for forever. This beautiful book makes me happy.

Idles, Molly. 2013. Flora and the Flamingo. Illus. by Molly Idle. San Francisco: Chronicle Books LLC. ISBN: 9781452110066.

Though Flora and the Flamingo is a wordless, flip-the-flap book it does not mean that this book lacks characters or a story. Unlike some lift-the-flap books, but not all, this book has a real storyline. A beautiful flamingo is resting by by the water when Flora appears in a bathing suit, flippers and adorable swim cap. She follows the bird's movement creating a graceful dance between the two of them. Then... a flop. through their twists and turns they have become friends and the flamingo encourages her back to the dance before splashing into the water at the end.

As you are turning the pages, in tuned with the story, and flipping the flaps to reveal the next move, you can hear the music they are dancing to in your head (at least I do!). The sense of movement you get of Flora and the flamingo dancing around the pages is excellent.

A study of lovely pink hues and a pop of yellow from Flora's swim cap is calm and soothing. All picture books are works of art. Art in writing. Art in illustrations. Art in book design. Plain and simple. Flora and the Flamingo is an example when all three things (yes, there are no words, but a story had to be developed somehow. Perhaps note taking? Also, don't forget the cover flap description!) combined creates the ultimate book. This book is a masterpiece. The fonts used on the cover and cover flaps are perfect. The delicate yellow scalloped border of the vignette on the cover. Matching plain yellow end pages. The black and white stripe at the top of the spine. A word for design: Perfect.

For those who enjoy picture books on eReaders I have seen the Adobe EPUB version as well as the Kindle Book version. I was disappointed in the EPUB format as the illustrations did not fill up the whole screen (it did better in the landscape view). The Kindle Book version was better. Not only are you required to view the picture book in landscape (and it fills the entire screen!), but it is still interactive like in the real book. Whenever there is a flap the reader will have to double-tap to "flip" it. The only downside side is that you cannot do both flaps at once like you can with the real book. I still recommend reading/sharing the real, original book format, but the Kindle version is my second best choice. 

It will be a sad day when the book's flaps will be separate from the book pages. However, that means that this book was read over and over again and was loved. Which is also a wonderful thing! A must read and own book!

  • View the book trailer at Chronicle Books' webpage (scroll down to the bottom). Ask the children if the music that was used matches the music that played in their head while they read the book.
  • Play different types of music while reading the book (perhaps several times) and allow the children to decide which one they think fits the best. Different answers are encouraged!

I am not the only one who thinks so. I came across this blog post by Carter Higgins (Design of the Picture Book). Her review of the book is beautifully written and she echos the same thought I have:

 "... if I had to put all of my money on the top Caldecott contender for this year? This one, by leaps and bounds."

For the first time, my fingers will be crossed when it comes to the Caldecott Medal announcement next year!

Have I gushed enough? I don't know...

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