Thursday, November 17, 2011

George Flies South

Written & illustrated by Simon James
Candlewick, 2011
$16.99, ages 3 and up, 40 pages

A fledgling takes flight in a way he never imagined in this darling book by the creator of Leon & Bob.

George, a tawny wisp of a bird, would rather snuggle in his nest than try out his wings and fly south.

Perched midway down the branch of a big tree at the entrance to a city park, the nest seems cozy and safe.

But Momma bird knows it won't be either for long.

Only a few leaves still cling to the tree and soon snow will come and worms will be hard to find.

It's time, she tells George, to stretch his wings and join other birds wheeling south.

"Are you ready, George?" she asks, enthusiastically fluttering her wings above him.

"Not quite," he replies, peeking over the edge of the branch. "I might fall," then marches back to his nest and hops inside.

Feeling quite taken care of, he asks Momma to find him worms and assures her he will be right there snug in his nest when she returns.

But after Momma flies off, a strong gust of wind sweeps through the park and sends George and his nest swirling through the air.

George isn't a bit afraid; he's giddy with excitement. "I'm flying," he cries, as he angles his wings from the front of his nest, as if his wings are what's making him fly.

He and his nest swirl about as they coast down and come to a gentle rest on the top of a parked car, and an elderly man in beret opens the door and slips in the keys.

Just then Momma returns to the branch, frantically looking for George. Down below, George chirps up to her just as the car drives away. "Am I going south, Mom?" he calls to her.

Momma bird flutters fast to catch up. Now a draft from the car going forward lifts George and his nest into the air once again, this time swirling down onto a barge carrying lumber.

But a barge isn't a place for a baby bird. "You've got to leave your nest," Momma urges, alighting down next to him.

No matter how hard George flaps, his body stays right where it started, and soon new dangers creep up, first a crane hoists him up onto a skyscraper, then a cat pounces.

Will he ever get the hang of using these wings?

James' ink and watercolors are a joy to look at. Every line is gentle and delicate. Breezes seems to swirl about on the page, and George looks so wee and dainty.

One look at him makes you wish you could scoop him up in your hands and offer your hands as his nest.

This is a lovely story about never giving up and discovering that sometimes a little nudge is all you need.

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