Flip, Flap, Fly!

written by Phyllis Root
illustrated by David Walker

Phyllis Root's Flip, Flap, Fly!
illustrated by David Walker

Book review by Sherri Trudgian

Ages Birth to Preschool

Babies here, babies there, I see babies everywhere!

Phyllis Root’s story Fip, Flap, Fly! is sure to delight mothers and children of every ilk. Like magnets we are all attracted to babies. They evoke tender emotion.

Whether it’s a young bird being coached out of its nest, fluffy yellow ducklings paddling behind their mama or your own toddler learning to walk, they are cute, innocent and eager to learn. This book is full of babies. The words, “… babies everywhere” appear like bookends on the front cover and last page of the story.

cropped image from Flip Flap Fly!

Babies are infatuated by other babies.

While learning to fly, baby bird spots a baby fish learning to swim, who sees a baby snake learning to wiggle, who spies a baby otter learning to slide down the bank to follow a baby duck learning to paddle, who catches a glimpse of a baby mouse learning to creep who in turn sees a baby child learning to kiss.

Throughout the story each animal mama teaches her baby what they were created to do.

“Fly!” cheeps the baby bird. “Way up high!” So the mama helps the baby bird flip flap fly.

Dr. Steven Pinker from MIT says the ear is attracted to rhyme like the eye is attracted to patterns.

Children that have been read nursery rhymes as toddlers have a much easier time learning to read.

Ms. Root’s verse provides ample opportunity for mothers to help develop pre-reading skills in their young children. She uses rhyme and alliteration to help form those necessary neural connections.

“Slide!” barks the baby otter. “Slick, quick ride!” So the mama helps the baby otter sloop slop slide.

She also uses repetition to aid in the learning of colors.

“…in the blue, blue sky ... in the brown, brown sand… through the yellow, yellow lilies … past the pink, pink roses…”

Her melodious phrasing allows the reader to float through the summer day along with the other animal babies.

“…in the honey-sunny day in the bright and breezy air…”

Flip, Flap, Fly is a gentle happy story and David Walker’s illustrations in soft acrylics accent that happiness. There are no harsh lines here, only smooth rounded heads each with an innocuous smile. The illustrations come full circle when the mother swings her baby child high into the air almost as if he too is learning to fly.

The colors are also a reflection of the mother and baby bird on the first page. Even the type is playfully set in “tempus sans,” appealing to young readers.

Your child will have fun guessing the identity of each new animal. Two specific clues are given at the end of each vignette. The rhyme gives the first clue. The second clue can be found in the illustration. We catch a glimpse of a tail which introduces the new animal on the following page.

The more times I read Flip, Flap, Fly!: A Book for Babies Everywhere the more I am impressed with Phyllis Root’s work. The verse is both playful and educational. The best part of this story will be your own child asking, “Read it again mama. Can we please read it again?”

Read more of Sherri's reviews.


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