Flora and the Flamingo

illus. by author. 44p. Chronicle. 2013. Tr $16.99. ISBN 978-1-4521-1006-6.
RedReviewStarPreS-Gr 2—This charming story begs to be an animated short-unsurprising, given the author's animation background-yet it works remarkably well as a wordless lift-the-flap book. Sparely illustrated, its full-spread white backgrounds with delicate pink-blossom borders emphasize the actions of the two protagonists. A lone flamingo lands onto the nearly blank expanse of the title page. Soon, it is joined by little Flora, who provides a sweetly round counterpoint to the angular bird. She furtively imitates the flamingo's moves with utmost concentration and extremely comical poses until it catches on and squawks angrily, driving her away in a sulk. Friendship triumphs in the end, and the unlikely couple dance together and joyously cannonball into water on the last double foldout page. As neither flamingos nor little girls are known for their inherent elegance, the duo's surprisingly graceful moves are reminiscent of dancing hippos and ostriches from Disney's Fantasia. This delightful romp is a worthy addition to most collections and will appeal to flamingo and ballet fans alike.—Yelena Alekseyeva-Popova, formerly at Chappaqua Library, NY
A little girl, a pink flamingo, some decorative cherry blossoms, and singular lift-the-flaps contribute to a unique wordless picture book. On the title-page spread, a flamingo gracefully touches down en pointe. The next spread shows the bird perched on one leg, in classic flamingo pose, with another someone poised to enter stage left -- all you can see is a flipper. Turn the page and a girl in a pink bathing suit, swimming flippers, and a cheery yellow bathing cap has sidled up behind the flamingo and is mimicking its stance. Each character appears on her own flap which, when flipped down, advances the scene: the bird is now shooting an irritated glance at the girl while she sports an oh-so-innocent, "Who, me?" look. This imitation goes on for a few spreads (including another pair of well-placed flaps) until the flamingo finally relents and begins to teach the girl how to dance, and soon the two are plié-ing and jeté-ing their hearts out in a graceful pas de deux, culminating in a euphoric double-page foldout. Author-illustrator Idle's work as a DreamWorks animator is apparent throughout. The book is cinematic, comedic, and balletic, with remarkable dynamic pacing facilitated by those ingenious flaps. Spare illustrations in a limited palette, mostly tutu-pinks with pops of yellow on pristine white pages, allow the characters' physical and emotional chemistry -- and the book's physical comedy -- to take center stage. elissa gershowitz

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