What sort of equipage does a young bird need to take that first flight?
In a tale that will ruffle many a feather, Gorin casts a fledgling whose eager readiness to take wing from his nest is repeatedly deflected by flightless, grown-up naysayers. First is Admiral Bird the penguin, who insists that classroom flight instruction is necessary (young Bertie accordingly “read maps, learned apps, and ran laps”). Then Prunella Flapdoodle the emu informs him that he needs testing and a license from the Department of Migrating Varmints. Finally, a fashion critique from kiwi Monique von Beaque sends him to the Chic Bird-tique. Can the “dapper flapper” launch at last? No, down he crashes beneath the weight of “maps, apps, frocks, socks, charts, parts, and papers.” But the loss of all that impedimenta leads to the epiphany that nature has already given him all that he ever needed to fly. Kearney casts his owlish protagonist in preppy duds and places him in a teeming treetop city of nests and birdhouses where he is surrounded by diverse flocks of wide-eyed avian passersby, classmates, and DMV captives. Gorin’s use of rhyming words does give the narrative lots of lift, but the negative messages about the dispensability of knowledge, government, and cultural norms sets this up as Oh, the Places You’ll Go for slackers and dropouts.
A song with sour notes aplenty. (Picture book. 6-8)