A young boy learns to let go of the object that makes him feel safest in a picture book that effectively skews perspective to great effect (and great heights).
Wild-haired, fair-skinned, barefoot Toby wears an orange parachute pack all the time, whether he's climbing down from his enormously tall bunk bed or braving a huge elephant at the zoo. As with a security blanket, Toby's parachute isn't just a survival mechanism in case of a calamitous fall, but a catchall object to fight everyday fears. It's only when Toby has to put the parachute to use to save his cat that he begins to learn to work through scary situations alone. The text is effectively sparse, letting airy digital illustrations work their magic, turning Toby's fears into stretched, depth-filled fantasies of a bed above the clouds and an untethered treehouse floating toward space. An effective mix of variously proportioned panels and double-page spreads, the images are a delight of tension, as thrilling as they are scary when considered from Toby's point of view. If the message, of leaving a childhood object behind to grow up, is unremarkable, the words and pictures still work wonders, giving the child's panic emotional weight and visual flair at the same time.
The very air around Toby seems to vibrate, and it's a great relief when he leaves the parachute behind; readers know there'll be plenty more adventures without it. (Picture book. 4-8)