cover image Fly, Chick, Fly!

Fly, Chick, Fly!

Jeanne Willis, illus. by Tony Ross. Andersen Press USA (Lerner, dist.), $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-4677-0314-7

Unlike the signature, comedic style of cartooning Ross uses in the Horrid Henry and Little Princess books, his textural pastel illustrations in this story about a baby barn owl are delicate and quiet, an excellent match for Willis’s lyrical text. Although Willis sneaks in some information about owls (“Every dawn, every dusk, Father Owl went hunting to feed Mother Owl”), the emphasis is on the youngest chick, who is afraid to leave the nest. “If I fly, the rain might get me. If I fly, a train might hit me,” she says. The older chicks find new homes, and after some prompting (Ross comically shows Father Owl tugging on his daughter’s tail as she clings to a branch), she finally tries to fly and succeeds. The story ends with a fairy-tale series of sentences that echoes the book’s opening lines and points to the cyclical nature of life: “In the middle of the beech tree, there is a hole./ In the middle of the hole, there is a nest.” A conventional but nonetheless lovely take on facing one’s fears. Ages 4–9. (Sept.)