Title: Flight School
By Lita Judge
Published by Athenium Books for Young Readers, April 2014
Themes: penguins, flight, courage, dreams
“I was hatched to fly'” said Penguin, “When do classes start?” “But you, dear, are a penguin.” Teacher replied. “Undeniable,” said Penguin, “But I have the soul of an eagle!”
The front end pages begin with a warm scene of a little penguin setting off in a small red motor boat wearing just his flight goggles and passing a sign indicating he is leaving the south pole. He has large dreams and great expectations because he knows his own heart!
On top of the next sign in the middle of the water, we read “FLIGHT SCHOOL / WE TEACH BIRDS TO FLY.” Here gathers a motley jumble of teachers and trainee birds. Doubtful teachers respond hesitantly at first to Penguin’s request, but then decide to give him a chance with the training program. “Penguin and the other birdies practiced for weeks,” and the big day of the first flight arrives and despite his confidence and lessons, his morphology causes Penguin to fail with aplomb! He is on the point of giving up when ever resourceful Teacher and Flamingo find a solution to give Penguin a taste of flight. It is creative, funny and short-lived, but as sweet an experience for Penguin as any fledgling’s first flight. It lasts only for a few moments, but his happiness at this one-time achievement is lasting and satisfying.
Why I like this book:
This is a picture book that so reflects childhood experience. I love the reality in this story because Penguin does not learn to fly alone, however children will understand his yearning for something beyond his ability and his sense of accomplishment anyway in going after his desires with his beautiful self-awareness of having the soul of an eagle. The adults are willing to give this lost cause a go and when it doesn’t work out they find solutions to give young Penguin a sense of accomplishment. And what does he do with his big eagle’s heart and this experience, he reaches out and gives this hope to one of his friends. The ending is truly special in this story!
Lita’s warm beach-scapes in orange, yellow and brown watercolor and blue and green sea scenes are perfect backgrounds for the funny crew of different birds she has in this story. Each bird is depicted with its own personality and there is whimsical humor in their expressions. Details are abundant, such as the ALL removed from the sign as Penguin gives up and sails away!
- The following sites have some great bird craft activities: Crafty Classroom, DLTK Crafts for Kids, Activity Village.
- Kids can make lists of flightless and flying birds.
- My interview with Lita Judge.
Every Friday, authors and KidLit bloggers post a favorite picture book. To see a complete listing of all the Perfect Picture Books with teaching resources and activities, please visit author Susanna Leonard Hill’s Perfect Picture Books.