Wings

Christopher A. Myers, Author, Christopher A. Myers, Illustrator
Christopher A. Myers, Author, Christopher A. Myers, Illustrator Scholastic Press $17.95 (40p) ISBN 978-0-590-03377-0
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Once again demonstrating a masterful use of collage, Myers (Black Cat) imaginatively refutes the myth of Icarus and champions the nature of the artist. A watchful girl, ostracized by her peers for her quiet nature, narrates the story of her blossoming friendship with a new neighbor, Ikarus Jackson, whose ""long, strong, proud wings followed wherever he went."" Ikarus initially walks (and flies) with confidence in his red T-shirt and blue shorts, but slowly loses steam as first the students, then his teacher, and finally a policeman all criticize his unique appearance. Always depicted as a yellow silhouetted figure gracefully cut from a single piece of paper, the girl sympathizes with the hero and completes Ikarus's medley of red and blue. In this way, Myers ingeniously allows readers to identify with the narrator, admiring Ikarus's beauty of flight and individual expression. The artwork isolates and reworks elements of the myth: In the valley of Ikarus's dejection (""He struggled to stay in the air. His wings dropped and his head hung low""), the boy seems to be plummeting toward an expanse of water. In the climax, as the policeman yells at Ikarus and the neighbors ""explode with laughter,"" Myers superimposes the boy's figure over a scene of a forest fire, and the narrator reaches out to Ikarus from across the gutter. She, too, seems to be aflame against a backdrop of swirling waterDand breaks her silence for the first time, "" `Stop!' I cried. `Leave him alone.' "" Myers indicates that one person appreciating another's true qualities makes life complete: the two friends seem to danceDhe in the air, she on the ground as their unique colors and shapes create a unified whole. Ages 7-up. (Oct.)
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