Dotsikas’ debut children’s picture book offers the lesson that with a little help from one’s friends, anything is possible.
A tiny, yellow bird named Benjamin Birdie, like many youngsters, isn’t willing to accept his mama’s opinion on whether he’s ready to grow up. As soon as she leaves to find food, he decides, contrary to her opinion, that he’s ready to fly. Other birds are flying, after all, so he thinks he can, too. He leaps into the air, manages a few triumphant flaps—and then plummets to the ground. The illustration is brilliant in the way it extends vertically across two pages to create a sense of just how far he falls. The concerned expressions on the other animals’ faces are touching, letting readers know that even in Benjamin Birdie’s moment of greatest despair, he isn’t alone. After quickly realizing that he can’t make it back up to the nest by himself, he begins asking other creatures for help. None can take him the entire way, but each one gets him a bit closer, until he finally gets back to his beloved nest. The verse is easy to read aloud, and the overall rhythm of the text works well, without any stumbling blocks. The typeface design creatively highlights the different meanings and emphases of words, which will help the text come alive even for children who are too young to read it themselves; for example, it uses the word “s-t-r-e-e-e-e-e-e-t-c-h-i-n-g” to describe what the giraffe does with her long neck. Most of the animals believe they can get Benjamin all the way home, and each is sad after realizing that he or she can’t quite get there. The end result of these helping paws, heads, wings, and tails, however, is success, which will teach children that even a partial victory can help accomplish a goal—particularly if everyone works as a team. A final, wonderful lesson comes when Benjamin admits to his mother that he’s not yet ready to fly, showing that honesty can result in hugs and love even when one makes a mistake. The animal glossary at the end of the book, meanwhile, is a wonderful educational tool featuring fantastic, full-color illustrations.
An endearing adventure with verse that soars.