cover image The Year We Learned to Fly

The Year We Learned to Fly

Jacqueline Woodson, illus. by Rafael López. Penguin/Paulsen, $18.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-399-54553-5

Two Black siblings use their imaginations to escape their immediate surroundings throughout the seasons in this picture book by previous collaborators Woodson and López (The Day You Begin). During “the spring when the rain seemed like it/ would never stop,” the children’s grandmother—who wears butterfly wings as earrings—encourages the bored duo to “Lift your arms,/ close your eyes,/ take a deep breath,/ and believe in a thing.” They do, “flying over the city we’d known/ our whole lives,” and from then on, nothing can keep them down—neither anger in summer, nor loneliness in autumn, nor unfriendly kids in a new neighborhood during winter. Learning to soar “from the people who came before,” the children are told both that their feelings have been experienced by others, and that “nobody can ever cuff/ your brilliant and beautiful mind,” a lesson they pass on in turn. Energetic layered multimedia illustrations accompany the poetically repeating lines, vividly depicting winged escapes over images of a slave ship and contemporary real-world high-rises. An author’s note acknowledges the work of Virginia Hamilton in this book’s origins. Ages 5–8. Author’s agent: Dorian Karchmar, William Morris Endeavor. Illustrator’s agent: Stefanie Sanchez Von Borstel and Adriana Dominguez, Full Circle Literary. (Jan.)