If I Never Forever Endeavor

Holly Meade, Candlewick, $15.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7636-4071-2
Playful verse and thoughtfully developed artwork distinguish Meade's (In the Wild) meditation on the anxiety of attempting something new. "If in all of forever,/ I never endeavor/ to fly, I won't know if I can," says a yellow bird, peeping out of its nest. Nest and pine branch are densely textured block-print cutouts set against blue washed skies; the dusky yellow nestling's feathers are shaded with a brush dipped in green. After some waffling ("On the one wing,/ I could try/ and find/ that I flap/ and I fail"), the bird realizes that not flying will bring regret ("I won't know how it feels to/ scallop the air/ with a dip/ and a glide") and takes the plunge. The navigation of this perennial dilemma is animated both by Meade's visual intelligence (white space between brushstrokes represents air currents disturbed as birds wing by, giving a remarkable sense of what flight must feel like) and her poetic integrity ("If I hadn't endeavored/ and found my wings clever,/ I never a sky/ would have scaled,/ never a world/ would have seen"). A quiet but noteworthy achievement, and a possible sleeper hit for graduation season. Ages 4–8. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/28/2011
Release date: 04/01/2011
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