Willa and Wade and the Way-Up-There

Kids Can. Jun. 2024. 40p. Tr $14.99. ISBN 9781525308420.
PreS-Gr 2–Two flightless birds have no shortage of follies in their mission to launch themselves into the “way-up-there.” Thorough thinkers Willa (an ostrich) and Wade (a penguin) use a lot of determination and a bit of scientific trial-and-error to get some air. The two friends hatch many plans: running for velocity, ballet for lightness, pogo sticks for lift, and sliding for speed. What they realize through their process of elimination is that rather than shifting approach, they need to shift their expectations. In fact, any critter feathered or furred could fly for a bit with the right set of conditions—as long as there is a safe place to land. The narrative is a bit of a trope, but the graphic novel format puts a fresh spin on a familiar story. Sarhangpour’s illustrations juxtapose uber-cute characters with a subdued palette, and by avoiding cloying colors, she broadens this title’s appeal to the full gamut of emergent readers. Undoubtedly, many will look forward to reading more of Willa and Wade’s adventures.
VERDICT Early elementary readers will delight in Willa and Wade’s high jinks, while grown-ups will appreciate the underlying lesson of resilience. A solid addition to school and public collections.

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