Monday, April 02, 2018

Up and Away! Sometimes You Fly by Katherine Applegate

Before the cake....

A frazzled mom, still in her bathrobe, is stirring away on her second try at the cake for that first birthday. Smoke still trails from the oven behind her as a bag of flour spills, trickling down on the head of the toddler.

Will there be a cake for the birthday boy?

There's many a slip between cup and lip, but yes! There is at last a cake! And he loves his first birthday party.

There's many a spill and a squash and a smash before some of those green peas get spooned into the tot's mouth.

Before the preschooler bounds into the waves, there's the first chilly, splashy, plastic pool challenge.

Before the friend...

... there's that long distance at the lunchroom table before Sam makes the first move to befriend Ben.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, in Katherine Applegate's lovely book about beginnings, Sometimes You Fly (Houghton Mifflin Clarion, 2018). Sometimes it's hard work, learning to read all those letters and words before you can lose yourself in a book after bedtime. There's the ignominy of being the student driver with the bored instructor in the car plastered with dire warnings, but then comes the freedom of driving down the freeway... solo! There are all those nights of burning the midnight oil over textbooks and reports, but then comes the moment the graduate joyfully tosses that mortarboard high into the sky.

With every try,
Sometimes you fail,
Sometimes you fly.

It's win some, lose some, in Newberry Award winner Applegate's gently winsome and poignant rhymes, given life and humor in the charming illustrations of Jennifer Black Reinhardt who captures Applegate's theme perfectly, pictured in her telling paired vignettes of before and after. Artist Reinhardt depicts the aspiration, set spot-art style on white background on the recto page, and with a page turn, the accomplishment is shown in full color on the verso or double-page spread. In one pair a kid, hopefully wearing his just-bought tee shirt with the Dino-Tastic Roller Coaster on the back, droops as he discovers he's too short to make the cut to ride it, while the page turn shows him, grown taller, joyfully coming down that first big drop, arms high. This perfectly executed little recipe book for weathering ups and downs has life lessons for all ages, a fitting tale for those who've just failed or those who have found success. As Applegate advises, it's...

...what you take
from all you learn
before the cake.

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