Flora and the Flamingo
by Molly Idle

Molly Idle's Flora and the Flamingo

Book review by Steve Barancik

Ages 2-6

Wordless, interactive magic

Who wouldn't want to dance with a flamingo? Certainly Flora would - though she doesn't want the flamingo to notice.

That might be embarrassing.


Summary - Flora and the Flamingo

All three 2014 Caldecott Honor books were wordless this year, but this is the one aiming at the youngest audience. It's also the most innovative.

Author-illustrator Molly Idle has a Hollywood background, and she brings a little movie magic to the table here!

A number of the book's pages feature flaps, which can be turned down to reveal another picture behind them.

This simple little feature invites some wonderful interactivity. More importantly, from a story standpoint, it adds some delightful texture to the two characters' interactions.

Allow me to demonstrate. Check out the top image below. It comprises a single two page spread of the book, featuring two flaps.

The innovative storytelling of Flora and the Flamingo. Multiple illustrations from a single two page spread!

Each of the two characters has her own flap. Watch how they come alive as you pull down first one...

Then the other...

Put one back up...

Lower the other...

Idle cleverly tells the tale of little Flora wanting to imitate the spectacular shorebird, but not wanting to be caught doing so! And Idle raises the question, visually, of whether the flamingo does indeed know Flora is mimicking her...

And whether Flora knows the flamingo knows.

It's a dance of viewpoint, of perspective, perfect for younger children. It helps put them in another person's (or flamingo's!) shoes. Review continues.

Pretty clever, huh? Now, parents, assert yourselves! You know that your only chance to orchestrate the storytelling will be the first time you share the book with your child.

After that, kiddo will certainly demand control of the flaps.

Review - Flora and the Flamingo

Idle hits all the emotional highs and lows you want out of a picture book aimed at the younger set. Flora wants to be with the flamingo but ends up embarrassing herself. But the big pink bird feels empathy, eventually enlisting Flora to perform a delightful dance duet with her.

Friendship rocks!

Idle has fun with the visual compare and contrast between the long, lean pink flamingo and the short, stocky toddler Flora, in her pink bathing suit, swim cap and huge flippers.

In addition to the flaps, Idle's publisher (Chronicle Books) gifted her with a delightful 4 page foldout for her finale, capturing the joy after Flora and her new friend cap their graceful duet with dual cannonballs into the lake.

I give four flaps (I mean, stars) to Flora and the Flamingo!

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